Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Tampa

Assistant Tampa police Chief Ruben Delgado to retire, take private sector job

The 24-year veteran of the department and former interim chief was passed over for the chief job earlier this year.
Tampa assistant police Chief Ruben “Butch” Delgado speaks at a news conference at the department's downtown headquarters on Feb. 8 after Mayor Jane Castor announced that she had selected Mary O’Connor as her pick for the new police chief. Delgado was serving as interim chief at the time and was one of three finalists. The department confirmed Friday that he is retiring to take a job in the private sector. His last day is July 1.
Tampa assistant police Chief Ruben “Butch” Delgado speaks at a news conference at the department's downtown headquarters on Feb. 8 after Mayor Jane Castor announced that she had selected Mary O’Connor as her pick for the new police chief. Delgado was serving as interim chief at the time and was one of three finalists. The department confirmed Friday that he is retiring to take a job in the private sector. His last day is July 1. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published May 20|Updated May 20

TAMPA — Ruben “Butch” Delgado, the Tampa assistant police chief who was passed over for the chief job this year, is retiring from the department, the agency confirmed Friday.

Delgado is taking a job in the private sector, but a statement from Delgado released by the department did not specify where. His last day is July 1.

“This is a great opportunity for me,” Delgado said in the statement. “I am so proud of the work the Tampa Police Department has accomplished, while serving and protecting the community over the years. Chief Mary O’Connor is a great leader and I know she will continue the proud legacy of this department.”

Delgado’s decision ends a 24-year career with the department and leaves a hole in O’Connor’s command staff. Delgado is one of two assistant chiefs and oversees investigations and support services.

It also potentially dashes the hopes of Delgado supporters who thought Mayor Jane Castor should have picked him over O’Connor, though O’Connor herself shows that leaving the department doesn’t mean you can’t come back: She retired as an assistant chief in 2016.

“Ruben Delgado and I have not only been colleagues but friends for over 20 years,” O’Connor said in a statement, noting that she was Delgado’s field training officer when he joined the department. “I am sad that he will no longer be with the Tampa Police Department but I am very happy for him as he takes on this new role in the next chapter of his life.”

Castor, a former Tampa police chief who promoted Delgado earlier in his career, tapped Delgado to serve as interim chief last year after Chief Brian Dugan retired. Castor said at the time she would conduct a national search to fill the post. In January, Castor announced she had narrowed the search to three finalists: Delgado, O’Connor and Cherise Gause, an assistant chief for the Miami Police Department.

Related: Tampa interim police Chief Ruben Delgado wants to keep the job. Here’s his backstory.

Delgado garnered a full-throated endorsement for the job from Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister and praise from officials such as Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren.

Castor announced in February that she’d picked O’Connor.

“I feel confident that Butch will make a great chief of police one day,” Castor said at the time.

That decision puzzled and disappointed members of some key constituencies and garnered some pushback.

Among the concerns, members of the city’s Hispanic community wondered why Castor would forgo the chance to pick Delgado, a well-liked product of West Tampa who was already doing the job, and whose appointment would help address a dearth of Hispanic city department heads.

Stay on top of what’s happening in Tampa

Stay on top of what’s happening in Tampa

Subscribe to our free Tampa Times newsletter

You’ll get a roundup of the biggest Tampa community news twice a week.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

The Tampa Police Benevolent Association, the police union, also backed Delgado from among the finalists. And Delgado had support from some members of the City Council, which ultimately voted in March to confirm O’Connor.

O’Connor, after her appointment, emphasized that Delgado would remain a key member of her command staff.

During his time as a patrol officer, Delgado worked in all three of the department’s districts, then climbed up the ranks.

In 2017, Dugan promoted Delgado to major overseeing District 1, then in January 2019 made him deputy chief of investigations and support. Along with criminal investigations, Delgado in that role oversees specialty teams like SWAT and K-9, as well as administrative functions such as purchasing.

O’Connor’s other assistant chief, Lee Bercaw, oversees operations.

“Butch is a great guy and a strong leader who listened to Council and the community,” Tampa City Council member Bill Carlson said in a written statement to the Times. “He worked closely with Council to end Renting While Black — a program exposed by the Times and now under investigation by the US Department of Justice. He will be missed and I’m confident he will be successful in his next role.”

Tampa restaurateur and philanthropist Richard Gonzmart, one of Delgado’s most vocal supporters, said Friday he was disappointed but not surprised by the news of his departure.

Gonzmart said Delgado’s stint as interim chief showed he was ready for the role and would be even more prepared after spending more time as an assistant chief under O’Connor, who Gonzmart said has done an impressive job during her first 100 days.

”Maybe in the future, he can come back as chief, just like Mary did,” Gonzmart said. “Wherever he is going, they’re fortunate to have a man of integrity, a family man who cares about his community.”

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge