Statements and insinuations made about Marco Island Police Department hiring false

Devan Patel
Marco Eagle
Police Chief Al Schettino stands in the ranks of his officers. The VFW hosted the Memorial Day observances 11 a.m. Monday at Veterans' Community Park on a windblown Marco Island.

Statements and insinuations being made, including by a local community publication, about Marco Island's hiring of an interim police chief or consultant are false.

A local community publication, the Coastal Breeze, claimed Friday that the city of Marco Island was bringing in former Tampa International Airport police chief and Naples police Capt. Paul Sireci, attributing the source of the information to another news publication, 

However, the article it pulled its information from only states Sireci was taking an interim assignment in South Florida. Nowhere in the article does it state Marco Island.

"Paul Sireci, who served as interim chief since Jan. 1, will depart at the end of the month for another temporary job in South Florida," reporter Marv Balousek wrote.

More:Recruitment process begins for next Marco Island police chief

More:MIPD, police supporters organize to keep chief

More:Marco Island police chief intends to retire June 15

Several police officers had approached the Marco Eagle last month with similar rumors about who was going to replace Police Chief Al Schettino. Schettino submitted a letter on Feb. 21 to City Manager David Harden announcing that June 15 would be his last day.

The retirement letter has come under question recently with some, including Schettino's assistant Sharon Kovacs, claiming he was forced out by City Manager David Harden.

An email from Harden to City Councilor Larry Honig last month lent credence to those beliefs as Harden expressed his opinion that a change needed to be made despite support for Schettino.

"I had met with Officer (John) Derrig on 2/28 and he told me there was a petition with about 2,000 signatures," Harden wrote. "I was taught to be careful how much weight you give to petitions, because most people will sign any petition they are asked to sign unless they are strongly opposed. In my opinion, the change is needed and I am willing to take the heat.  I have also had people quietly tell me that we need a new chief."

Last week, the Marco Eagle contacted Harden, who dispelled those rumors about Sireci in an email on April 3.

Harden said there was a belief that a new chief could be put in place by June 15 but disputed that Sireci would be considered in an interim capacity.

"If not, I would look for an interim chief I know I can trust to manage the department well during a short interim," Harden wrote. "I do not know Mr. Sireci, and would not choose someone I do not know."

On Friday, Harden reiterated that the rumors about Sireci were false.

"I do not know Mr. Sireci and have never spoken to him," Harden said Friday. "There are no plans to bring him here."

More:EEOC complaint details Marco police discrimination, information leaks, potential perjury

More:Islander who had sex with former Marco police officers given 'free pass' after traffic stops

More:Investigation finds two former Marco Island cops were having sex while on duty