End of an era: Marco Police Chief Thom Carr resigns, says lawsuits not part of decision

Police Chief Thom Carr, seen in front of police HQ,  retired from the City of Marco Island in 2011. Lance Shearer/Special to the Daily News

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Police Chief Thom Carr, seen in front of police HQ, retired from the City of Marco Island in 2011. Lance Shearer/Special to the Daily News

— Marco Island’s top cop is calling it quits after nearly four decades in law enforcement and while he is the focus of two lawsuits that were recently filed against him.

Police Chief Thom Carr announced his retirement Wednesday afternoon while denouncing the idea the two lawsuits against him and the city led to the decision.

“A lawsuit wouldn’t scare him into doing this,” said City Clerk Laura Litzan, who joins Carr as one of the city’s first employees. “He’s not the type to back down like that.”

Carr was hired July 12, 1999. He was named chief in 2008.

Carr’s announcement came upon returning from a vacation and just shortly after his 65th birthday on June 27. Carr announced his retirement to a group of City Council members and department heads, at a budget sub-committee meeting.

It wasn’t the lawsuits, Carr said of his motives.

“I had been thinking about it and originally thought about going another year, but been looking at it closer lately,” Carr said. “I’m in my 38th year of law enforcement and enough is enough.”

In March, a lawsuit was filed by former police Lt. Cliff Morine, 38, of Estero, in the U.S. District Court in Fort Myers claiming Carr drove to the scene of a death investigation intoxicated. Morine claims in the lawsuit Carr terminated him as retaliation for Morine expressing his concern for the chief’s safety and for potentially contaminating the scene on May 24, 2009.

“He was, at best, a disgruntled employee,” Carr said. “It will all come out, I’m not worried at all.”

Moline was one of two lieutenants terminated in July 2010 — a decision based on saving money by hiring lower-ranking officers, Carr maintains.

“My wife (Liz) and I had been to a friend’s house for a party and she was driving,” Carr said. “I saw four police cars with lights on. Being police chief, I stopped and talked with him about 30 seconds.”

Carr determined the situation was under control and recalled telling Morine “You’re good as gold.” His wife then drove them home, Carr said.

Carr continues to garner support from city officials for his actions that day.

“When you are off-duty, I think you are allowed to do that,” City Councilman Wayne Waldack said of Carr’s having gone to a party. He dropped by a busy scene to “check on his men,” which was appropriate, Waldack said.

Another lawsuit was also filed against Carr, the police department and the city in June 2010.

Apothecary Development Corp., which does business as Island Drug, and owners Larry and Susan Heine, filed their civil rights complaint in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers accusing police of harassment by threatening to arrest people purchasing prescriptions.

Heines’ attorney, Michael McDonnell of Naples, didn’t have much to say about Carr’s retirement.

“It should not affect the litigation unless some later relevant facts are discovered,” McDonnell said in an email.

Although some people called the retirement sudden, others said people didn’t know because Carr is a quiet man.

“It was a disappointing surprise for me,” said Bill Morris, president of the Marco Island Police Foundation, who is also a Marco Island-based attorney.

“He’s a great guy and whatever his reason, he didn’t share it with me,” Morris said. “It’s a pretty personal decision.”

Carr climbed up the law enforcement ladder from its first rung, making chief in 2008 after then-Chief Roger Reinke was named Naples assistant city manager.

Carr retired from the Indianapolis Police Department in 1999 after 25 years. He retired as a lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Army Reserve after 23 years and was released from the U.S. Army as a captain in 1972 after serving five years.

Carr earned about $105,000 annually as Marco’s top cop and will draw a pension from Marco Island in addition to pensions earned earlier. Carr’s final day has yet to be announced as he and City Manager Jim Riviere negotiate a date that will provide the smoothest transition, they said.

Calling his tenure with the department, “rewarding and fulfilling,” Carr said the positives outweighed the negatives.

“It has been an honor to be the chief of police for Marco Island for the last three years and it has been a real experience, even more than I expected,” he said. “It is time to take a break for a while.”

Riviere said he had not talked to Carr about retiring previously. As to rumors that Riviere talked with Carr about stepping down, that “never happened,” Riviere said.

“Thom is a career law enforcement person and I admire him,” Riviere said. “I wish him the very best of luck. I know he has been looking forward to retirement and he has a good plan.”

Riviere would not comment on selecting Carr’s replacement.

“I’d rather not comment on hiring,” Riviere said. “I would rather it be a happy moment for Thom.”

Waldack said Capt. Dave Baer has been essentially running the operations and could continue to do so.

Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk enjoyed a great working relationship with Carr and the department, said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Michelle Batten in an email to the Daily News

“Sheriff Rambosk wishes Chief Carr well in his retirement and thanks him for his many years of dedicated service to our country and to our community,” Batten said.

Asked during Wednesday’s budget meetings about his future plans, Carr pantomimed a golf swing, and mentioned a desire to raise Labrador puppies. The group gave Carr an ovation, and many gathered around offering congratulations when the meeting took a recess shortly afterward.

Freelance reporter Lance Shearer contributed to this story.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 31

MIslander writes:

This is a very necessary step in fixing our police department. Thank you Chief Carr for all that you have done, but the department is in need of serious overhaul and new management.

August8 writes:

Not So Fast --- The Chief did a good job, has always worked hard and it really is time for retirement.
However, this is the point at time that the Intire City needs to come together and really decide once and for all, do they want their own police department.To let this go on the way that it has in years gone by would be a huge mistake.Most of the people,(officers) 90%, have also done a very good job in spite of everything.
Their is a very good County Police Force around that could absorb and police the city if desired.
Think this one over carefully.

JohninMarco writes:

in response to August8:

Not So Fast --- The Chief did a good job, has always worked hard and it really is time for retirement.
However, this is the point at time that the Intire City needs to come together and really decide once and for all, do they want their own police department.To let this go on the way that it has in years gone by would be a huge mistake.Most of the people,(officers) 90%, have also done a very good job in spite of everything.
Their is a very good County Police Force around that could absorb and police the city if desired.
Think this one over carefully.

Facing many lawsuites, did he do a good job or was he way over his head? We the public will be paying thousands for his many poor decisions. This department needs to be re-examined and a major house cleaning is in order.

OldMarcoMan writes:

Do none of you remember that The Collier County Sheriff says he not only doesn't want to patroul Marco but that it will be very expensive to have him do it,,, one estimate was 10 million to set it up and run in the first two years.

liberator100 writes:

Uwe the Clown Marian Herzili Klabberyapper for Police Chief.

chinkley writes:

John in Marco. Because you are an EX-police officer that couldn't make the grade you constantly complain about the Marco Island Police. They are doing a great job, and Thom Carr is and has always been a great asset to Marco Island

marconed writes:

Now that we need a new chief lets revamp the whole department. We only need half of the force we now have.I also think there is no need for the officers to take taxpayer funded and gassed vehicles home.

ba10da69 writes:

in response to rolomokat:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ohhh no Porkys is gonna take a hit.....Carr get your drunk A55 out of here....

vntgedrumz writes:

Hopefully AA has 2 slots open in the husband/wife program.

ed34145 writes:

Hey August8...the city already decided. We had a referendum vote....Are you new or is your memory poor?

August8 writes:

No, I realize that fact, would you say a few things have changed in the world that may give cause to a consideration as such???
Personally, I think Carr and his group do a great job, perhaps I am thinking a vote of confidece??
Dude, Ed34100000000000- pull your head out of that deep dark hole !!!

seasonala writes:

A retirement plan that includes "raising lab puppies". Hopefully to rescue not to breed!

u2cane writes:

Hey, if we put it on the ballot enough times I think we can eventually get anything accomplished.

NobodysFool57 writes:

in response to ed34145:

Hey August8...the city already decided. We had a referendum vote....Are you new or is your memory poor?

I remember the referendum well. It was carried by part-time residents (absentee voters) who were told they would be getting extra protection at no additional cost. The vote count showed that among "locals" (myself included) who actually went to the polls that day, it lost. Think about the lawsuits this reckless bunch of "Miami Vice wannabe"s is costing us. The $4 or 5 million per year disbanding MIPD would save us would go a long way in stabilizing the financial albatross Marco Island Utilities has become. Besides, it would a great way to show our appreciation to the police for bringing in a union once they were accepted.

ba10da69 writes:

I can only imagine who they will put in that position next..Lets see if Mr.Jetski racer Hennings will try again.....

ba10da69 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

captnjimbo writes:

in response to rolomokat:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Now that's funny!

mahiman writes:

Yes, I want a bad-a** "clean" police department or all the dirtbags won't be afraid to cross the bridge. Keep out the riff-raft....but lets clean up the department...and keep it!

August8 writes:

At least the Chief will not be exposed to the nasty as distasteful residents of this island like the ones that participate in these comments, Naples is nice this time of year !!!!

ba10da69 writes:

I give it 6 months, Liz or Tom will recieve a D.U.I

Islandguyalso writes:

in response to ba10da69:

I give it 6 months, Liz or Tom will recieve a D.U.I

How much you want to bet big mouth

August8 writes:

These are very nice people, let it go nurds !!!

ba10da69 writes:

$10,000...enough to cover the D.U.I

Islandguyalso writes:

You would never pay but what I will bet you is if they do I'll never post again if they don't you will not ever post on this site again. How about it big shot

ba10da69 writes:

Your an rear..ED

JohninMarco writes:

in response to ba10da69:

I give it 6 months, Liz or Tom will recieve a D.U.I

I bet they move to another state as quickly as they can. Can not be made to come back for a civil law suit.

blogsmog writes:

isnt this the tough guy chief who manhandled an 80
Year old vet out of a council meeting? Hasta luego tough guy.

ba10da69 writes:

"END OF AN ERROR": Marco Police Chief Thom Carr resigns, says lawsuits not part of decision
"A BETTER TITLE"

Islandguyalso writes:

in response to ba10da69:

Your an rear..ED

Hey big mouth where is your ans. to the bet you chicken sh@@. You spew garbbage from your mouth back it up.

Islandguyalso writes:

in response to JohninMarco:

I bet they move to another state as quickly as they can. Can not be made to come back for a civil law suit.

Ok you say "I bet they move to another state as quickly as they can. Can not be made to come back for a civil law suit." I'll make you the same bet as big mouth if they move out of the state before this baseless law suit is thrown out I'll never post again and if the suit is thrown out and the still live here you go away and never post again. POS

Islandguyalso writes:

in response to ba10da69:

"END OF AN ERROR": Marco Police Chief Thom Carr resigns, says lawsuits not part of decision
"A BETTER TITLE"

You are a coward hiding behind the blogg why do you not respond to my bet you will be able to re log on under a different name when you lose may I suggest "coward of the county" or maybe "I am to scared to live"

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