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Police chief search heads into homestretch

A committee will soon narrow a field of eight to four. Finalists will travel to St. Pete Beach in early November for interviews.

By AMY WIMMER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 23, 2002

A committee will soon narrow a field of eight to four. Finalists will travel to St. Pete Beach in early November for interviews.

ST. PETE BEACH -- From about 125 candidates, St. Pete Beach has narrowed its search for a police chief to just eight -- three from Florida, five from out of state.

The list likely will get shorter later this week, when City Manager Mike Bonfield and a committee assembled to select a new police chief review video interviews submitted by the eight candidates.

The committee -- which consists of St. Pete Beach Personnel Director Kara Schrader-Smith; Largo Police Chief Lester Aradi; consultant Bob Chambers; and interim police Chief Bob Babineau -- will choose four finalists who will travel to St. Pete Beach for interviews in early November.

"I think it's important that we have a chief who is pretty hands-on, who is going to be somebody who will get active in the community, get active in the department, and understand what our needs are," Bonfield said.

Bonfield said no internal candidates applied from within the St. Pete Beach Police Department.

The original list of applicants included law enforcement professionals from 16 different states. Two women applied, and while one of them, Maj. Mary Peters of the St. Petersburg Police Department, was among the top 17 applicants, all eight remaining finalists are men:

-- Michael J. Clancey became chief in Westerville, Ohio, three years ago, moving there from Arlington, Va., where he worked his way up the ranks in 20 years with the department. When he was hired, City Council members were impressed by his leadership skills, background in technology and long tenure in Arlington, according to newspaper reports from the region.

Clancey received a bachelor's degree in history and political science from American International College in Springfield, Mass., and a master's degree in criminal justice from Virginia Commonwealth University.

-- Ted Litschauer, police chief of the Sedalia (Mo.) Police Department, moved to Missouri seven years ago, but he previously was employed in Tampa Bay, working with the Tampa Police Academy, the Tampa Police Department, Saint Leo College, and the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

He has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of West Florida and a master's degree from Nova University in criminal justice.

-- Donald S. Quire, SWAT liaison for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, retired from the St. Petersburg Police Department three years ago as a major.

Quire's experience includes 32 years in law enforcement. He was part of a team that researched and implemented community policing in St. Petersburg.

Quire stated in his application that one of his career goals is to become a police chief while remaining in Pinellas County. He said he was a finalist for the St. Petersburg police chief job in 1992 and a finalist for the Belleair chief's job in 2000.

Quire has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a master's degree in criminology, both from the University of South Florida.

-- Steven D. Robbins, who retired last year as a major in the Miami Beach Police Department, was responsible for the support services division, which handles most administrative issues, including personnel files, training, and background investigations for the department.

Robbins worked for the Miami Beach police for more than 26 years.

Robbins has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Florida International University and is working toward a master's degree in public administration.

-- Charles David Romine has been Winter Haven's police chief for three years. Previously, he was assistant chief of the South Miami Police Department, including several months as acting chief.

He joined South Miami as a police officer and rose through the ranks in his 24 years with the department.

Romine has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Florida International University.

-- Michael E. Rowland is a captain with the Mobile (Ala.) Police Department.

Rowland has worked in Mobile since 1973, when he was hired as a police cadet.

Rowland said in his application that St. Pete Beach "needs a chief of police that is highly visible and attentive to its needs."

Rowland has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of South Alabama and a master's degree in public administration, also from the University of South Alabama.

-- Rex W. Taylor has been chief of the Iola (Kan.) Police Department for eight years and previously was chief in Maize, Kan.

In his application to the city, Taylor said he has a "participatory management style with an open door policy." He said he encourages personnel to be involved in decision-making and has led two police departments "to embrace community policing through personal involvement in the community."

Taylor has a bachelor's degree in police science from Washburn University and a master's in public administration from the University of Kansas.

-- Karl W. Wilmes is the police chief in Edgewater, Colo.

Wilmes has been a law enforcement officer in Colorado since 1979. He was hired as Edgewater's police chief in 1999 and previously spent 20 years with the Thornton Police Department.

"I value empowering others to develop new skills, an investment in people, and a quality working and living environment," Wilmes wrote in his application. "I believe the city of St. Pete Beach offers growth, challenge and an outstanding career opportunity."

Wilmes has a bachelor's degree from Columbia College in Denver and a master's degree in management from Webster University, also in Denver.

-- Times researcher Kitty Bennett contributed to this report.

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