Award shocks chief of police
With the help of a top sergeant, the Shrine Club sets up Chief Sid Klein for a surprise .
By SHEELA RAMAN
Published November 9, 2006
The conspiracy infiltrated the Clearwater Police Department.
A top sergeant and the department spokesman, in cooperation with the Clearwater Shrine Club, pulled off a stunt that shocked police Chief Sid Klein.
They presented him with the Clearwater Shrine Club's annual Police Officer of the Year Award at a surprise luncheon Wednesday afternoon.
"Only you Shriners could have pulled off this conspiracy. And you pulled it off really well," said Klein, after finding out the award was for him, not Sgt. Greg Stewart, as he had thought.
Normally, the police chief, in conjunction with the department, chooses the officer of the year. This year the Shrine Club put aside the rules.
Klein's 25 years of leadership has made Clearwater's police force one of the best in the county and in the nation, said Reed Rue, director of the club. Klein is also the longest serving police chief in Clearwater history, he added.
"We felt that it was his time to be honored," Reed said.
Fifteen minutes into the luncheon, Klein and most other police officers and Shrine members at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort still thought the award was going to Stewart, who Klein had nominated for the position.
Only Rue, Stewart, police department spokesman Wayne Shelor, and a few others knew the truth. Clearwater councilmen Hoyt Hamilton, John Doran and Bill Jonson were present, as were Vice Mayor Carlen Petersen and Largo Police Chief Lester Aradi.
When Rue finally announced the real intent of the luncheon, Klein's normally stoic face turned pink.
Rue coaxed Klein onto the podium to remark upon his award. The chief had few words.
"I had some remarks, but they were about Sgt. Stewart," he said. "I guess I'll have to give him some kind of award when we get back."
Klein, who said he is uncomfortable talking about himself, emphasized the role of his colleagues in making Clearwater a model police force.
"A great police department is synonymous with a pot of soup," he said. "You've got to have the right ingredients."
It was Rue who gave Klein's list of accomplishments in Clearwater: training officers in cutting edge crime-fighting techniques and building bridges with other law enforcement agencies, immigrant communities and the disenfranchised.
"It's not a coincidence that we are one of the safest cities in the county, and he's the police chief," Doran said.
Klein's girlfriend Kelly Deleser was present at the luncheon, and he credited her with bringing brightness back into his life.
Outside of work, Klein's life has been marked by tragedy. His first and second wives both died after difficult battles with cancer. He has said his job gave him strength and inspiration in the face of his personal struggles.
As for his future on the police force, Klein was vague. "I'm not going to do another 25 years, but I'll do a few more," he said.
"And I'm going to kill Sgt. Stewart when we get back to work," he added jokingly.
[Last modified November 9, 2006, 05:48:07]
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