Eighty-one candidates apply to become next Marco Island police chief

Devan Patel
Marco Eagle
Police officers Bob Marvin, from left, Capt. Dave Baer, Frank Linkenberg, Sgt. Hector Diaz, Chief Al Schettino, Sgt. Brian Hood, and Bill Miller.

The city of Marco Island has no shortage of candidates looking to become its next police chief.

Eighty-one candidates, including 28 from the state of Florida, have thrown their hats in the ring to replace Police Chief Al Schettino, who will retire from the department on June 15.

City Manager David Harden had engaged the Florida Police Chiefs Association STARS Program to lead the search of which the deadline for applications ended on April 26.

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Amy Mercer, executive director of the Florida Police Chiefs Association, said a panel of experts is currently reviewing resumes and cover letters. The first cut in the selection phase will trim the candidate list to between 10 and 20 by the first part of next week.

Mercer said the number of candidates remaining after each cut varies depending on the caliber of resumes they receive and the city's preference for size.

Once the first cut is made, Mercer said questionnaires will be sent to the remaining candidates, who will have one week to return their answers.

The second cut will trim down the pool to between four and eight candidates, who will then be invited for interviews and participation in assessment exercises.

Harden has previously expressed his belief that there would be time to have a new chief in place by the time Schettino leaves the job.

The pending vacancy was created in February when Harden asked Schettino to resign from his position due to a string of embarrassing incidents at the police department.

These incidents included multiple officers being found to have had sex while on duty as well as Schettino's 2015 decision to place a "Brady Cop," or an officer whose credibility is so tarnished that the state attorney's office will not call him or her as a witness in a criminal trial, back on patrol.

Schettino felt that he had to reassign officer Tige Thompson from investigations so not to tarnish those cases but it resulted in numerous other cases stemming from his arrests to never go to trial.

Four years after making that decision, Schettino wrote in a memo that he felt Thompson could no longer perform the duties of his position despite there being no change in the officer's Brady status. Thompson has been on leave for the past two months as the city evaluates his employment status.

In lieu of resigning, Schettino had asked Harden if he could retire on June 15, which is his 10th anniversary with the department and would allow him to receive a retirement badge.

Harden accepted the counteroffer and allowed the public to believe it was Schettino's decision until multiple demonstrations were made at the City Council's meetings protesting the decision.

At the April 15 City Council meeting, Harden said that he had wished to keep employment matters confidential to allow outgoing employees to retain some dignity but could no longer remain silent about the decision.

Despite some outcry from a portion of the community, Harden remains firm on his decision.

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