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This is a six-month review of the most-read crime stories in Collier County on naplesnews.com from September 2018 to February 2019. Vonna Keomanyvong, vonna.keomanyvong@naplesnews.com; 239-213-5380

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Montclair Township (N.J.) Deputy Chief Tracy Frazzano will continue her path in making history in law enforcement after being named the first woman to lead the Marco Island Police Department.

"I am very pleased and excited to report that Ms. Tracy Frazzano, who currently serves as Deputy Police Chief of Montclair Township, New Jersey, has accepted appointment as Marco Island’s next police chief," said City Manager David Harden in an email to City Council Wednesday. "Her appointment is conditional and requires passing all the tests required of new police officers coming to the city. We certainly expect that she will have no difficulty doing that."

Frazzano, who was the first woman to become detective, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and deputy chief in Montclair, beat out 80 other candidates after the city officially listed the position more than three months ago.

“This has just been such a blessing,” Frazzano said of learning about the selection. “I’m so grateful and very honored to be chosen. It was shocking at first that this really came true.”

In case you missed it: Marco Island police chief intends to retire June 15

Current City Manager David Harden announced the selection of Frazzano in an email to the City Council Wednesday, which was made in conjunction with incoming manager Mike McNees.

Harden said both he and McNees independently ranked Frazzano as the top-choice for the chief's job. 

Frazzano has served in law enforcement for more than 24 years at the Montclair Police Department, including 16 years in a supervisory capacity.

By comparison to Marco Island’s small police force, the Frazzano was responsible for policies, procedures, and training for Montclair’s department, which included 112 sworn officers and 16 civilian dispatchers.

Along with her extensive career in municipal policing, Frazzano was an FBI National Academy distinguished graduate and a Department of Homeland Security fellow, focusing in counter-terrorism and security preparedness.

With her law enforcement career spent in New Jersey, Frazzano said she has already reached out to her peers about how to handle to change in scenery.

“I’m a person that likes to learn,” Frazzano said. “Transitioning to another department, the best advice I received is to be myself and that’s what I’m going to do.”

In her cover letter to the Florida Police Chiefs Association, which oversaw the search process, Frazzano emphasized her belief in continuous learning and process improvement.

“I actively identify process improvement opportunities within our department uncovered via lessons learned from other jurisdictions, input provided by officers, and feedback from community members,” Frazzano wrote. “Officer Survival Kits is a tangible example of this intersection: it was identified as a military best practice and supported by community leaders to assist our officers and citizens. Even though I oversee our $14 million budget, we found a way to fund this initiative through donations with no initial cost to the department.”

Those attributes were also something she's looking forward to bringing to Marco Island.

“I’m going to go in there and build on our strengths,” Frazzano said. “I will also look at where we can do better because I want us to excel.”

Frazzano will replace another former New Jersey law enforcement officer, Chief Al Schettino, who was forced in retirement in February by Harden.

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

Shettino’s tenure came to an end after numerous embarrassing incidents came to light over the past year as well as questionable leadership decisions.

Under Schettino’s watch, multiple now-former Marco Island police officers were found to have had sex while on duty. The woman who was involved with the officers has also filed notice of claim, which is the first step before initiating a lawsuit against a government entity in Florida.

The claim specifies that the woman suffered harm as a result of the negligent hiring, supervision and retention of the officers. Two out of the three officers have already relinquished or had their certifications revoked by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Along with the sex on duty scandal, Schettino and top police brass were named in an EEOC complaint by Records Clerk Heather Comparini, who accused the department of defamation, harassment and discrimination.

The final blow to Schettino’s Marco Island career came when Harden learned that the police department continued to employ a “Brady cop” on patrol, despite the state attorney’s office’s position that the officer would not ever be called as a witness in a criminal trial due to credibility concerns.

Officer Tige Thompson’s involvement in a standoff in which a man barricaded himself in his home with a cache of weapons resulted in the state attorney’s office declining to prosecute multiple felony charges.

More: Marco Island 'Brady cop' removed from police force, offered civilian employment

Thompson was recently removed from the force due to his inability to perform the duties of a police officer, an action which could have been taken years ago when Schettino was first informed of Thompson’s status.

The police chief search process began with 81 candidates before being whittled down to 12 candidates after one week of the application period's close.

Frazzano was one of the five remaining finalists who was invited to participate in assessments and interviews June 6-7.

The other finalists were:

  • Captain John Crane-Baker, Delray Beach Police Department
  • Chief Anthony Giaimo, former Director of Public Safety at Florida Southwestern College
  • Deputy Chief Stephen McCosker, Ocoee Police Department
  • Assistant Chief Terrence Pierce, Gainesville Police Department

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dianna Dohm, who participated in the assessments, said Frazzano's presence, demeanor and academic background really stood out.

Dohm called Frazzano "the total package."

Frazzano's employment is conditional as she will be required to complete testing to become certified in the state. Upon completion, she is expected to start in the latter part of August.

“I’m excited about this opportunity and am looking forward to meeting all of them, from residents to snowbirds,” Frazzano said. “I want to do what I can to develop the community because the police department really is made up of people from the community.”

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