Marco Island to announce interim police chief Friday, new chief the week of June 10
With a replacement for Police Chief Al Schettino unlikely to be in place by June 15, Marco Island City Manager David Harden will announce an interim chief Friday.
Harden had originally hoped to have a new police chief in place by Schettino's retirement date, but it's more realistic that the new chief will be named by that date rather than ready to assume the mantle.
The city of Marco Island contracted with the Florida Police Chief's Association's STARS Program in March to conduct the search, which began with 81 candidates and has been whittled down to five.
The finalists for the chief's position are:
- Captain John Crane-Baker, Delray Beach Police Department
- Deputy Chief Tracy Frazzano, Montclair (N.J.) Police Department
- Chief Anthony Giaimo, Florida Southwestern College Police Department
- Deputy Chief Stephen McCosker, Ocoee Police Department
- Assistant Chief Terrence Pierce, Gainesville Police Department
Although Schettino announced his retirement in late February, his decision was not voluntary.
During the City Council's April 15 meeting, Harden revealed that he had asked Schettino to tender his resignation due to a number of embarrassing incidents and questionable leadership decisions.
As a counteroffer, Schettino asked to stay on with the department until June 15, marking his 10th anniversary and making him eligible for a retirement badge, which Harden accepted.
The incidents Harden referred to were the multiple officers who were found to have had sex on duty as well as the Schettino's decision to put a 'Brady cop' on patrol despite the state attorney's office's stance that Officer Tige Thompson would never be used as a witness in a criminal trial due to concerns about his credibility.
The sex on duty scandal led to two officers, Sgts. James Inlow and Neil Giansanti, resigning while under investigation, which eventually found the allegations against the officers to be credible.
Inlow and Giansanti also lost their law enforcement certifications this month.
On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission revoked Inlow's credentials for having sex on duty and possession of dangerous drugs. Giansanti voluntarily relinquished his certification while under investigation by FDLE.
A third officer, Kevin Hennings, was terminated in September after investigators also determined that he had sex while on duty.
Despite some public outcry, most notably the "Keep the Chief" campaign, over his decision to remove Schettino, Harden stood firm and allowed the search process to continue.
With a new timetable, Harden said that he expects to select a permanent police chief in two weeks.
"I expect to make a decision on a new police chief the week of June 10," Harden wrote in an email. "After that, it will just depend on how much notice the person selected needs to give their present employer. In any case, I expect the new police chief to be in place sometime in July."
FPCA Executive Director Amy Mercer said the process for finalists will include onsite assessments as well as interviews with a panel of law enforcement experts and city personnel June 6-7.
To go along with a seven-person panel, a three-person mock city council consisting of Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dianna Dohm, Water and Sewer Director Jeff Poteet and Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief Dave Batiato will also help rank candidates.
Part of the process will include each candidate making a presentation on the topic of "Rebuilding public trust in the police department," which was selected by Harden.
Each finalist will also have a one-hour interview with Harden.
Harden, who previously served as the city manager of Delray Beach, has been involved in the selection process thus far, including requesting the inclusion of Crane-Baker on the list of finalists. A list of finalists proposed by FPCA included some difference of opinion on whether he should make the cut.
Despite their employment paths crossing, Harden said his inclusion was purely merit-based and also at the suggestion of Schettino.
“I do not know him personally and as far as I can recall, I’ve never had a conversation with him,” Harden said. “What I can tell you though is that I do know the culture of the Delray Beach Police Department.”
Harden added that the Delray Beach Police Department had produced seven police chiefs either In Delray or in other cities from the time he had been city manager until now.
Harden also emphasized that the panel and mock-council would pick the top two or three candidates and that the selection would be made from those rankings.
"The most important thing is I’m not going to do the ranking," Harden said. "I'm not going to choose someone that doesn’t come up in the top two or three."
With the city hiring Mike McNees as its city manager effective July 1, Harden said the police chief selection would be made jointly by both men.