Becoming the next Chief of the St. Petersburg Police Department does not appear to be in the cards for Melanie Bevan.
Mayor Rick Kriseman informed Bevan Saturday that she would not succeed Chuck Harmon.
Kriseman asked Bevan to keep the news to herself until Tuesday when he will publicly announce his decision. So much for that.
Two of the other finalists for the position — retired New Haven (Conn.) assistant chief Thaddeus Reddish and Terrence Pierce, a captain at the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland — were also informed they did not make the cut.
A spokesman for Kriseman said the mayor would have no comment this weekend. Bevan, however, released a statement confirming Kriseman’s decision.
“I’m obviously disappointed with the decision, as this was a position I’ve worked toward my entire career,” Bevan said after news of her being passed over was first reported on this site. “The St. Petersburg Police Department has been a very special part of me for nearly 28 years, and I wish the new chief much success with its future.”
Bevan was widely considered to be the leading candidate for Chief. She enjoys the most support from local citizens, a majority of City Council members, and the rank-and- file officers.
However, she is perceived to be too close with the police officers’ union — a perception held against her by some in St. Petersburg’s African-American community, which thinks the PBA favors more aggressive law reinforcement tactics.
“Whether it’s true or not, it’s hard to say,” NAACP president Manuel Sykes told FOX 13 News, “it’s a perception and you know perception goes a long way.”
The extended time it has taken Kriseman to select a new chief has led to speculation that he was moving away from selecting Bevan.
It has been nearly 11 months since former Harmon announced his retirement in early September of 2013.
It’s still unknown if Kriseman has actually decided on Jerry Geier, who has impressed some residents during get-to-know-you forums and other outreach efforts.
Geier is a thirty-year veteran of law enforcement, including service for the the Orange and Osceola Sheriff’s Offices.
The new chief will have a full plate when they come aboard, including recent issues like racial tension and internal promotions.
After the new Chief is selected, the department will need to replace two of its three assistant chiefs, reports Steve Nichols of Fox 13 News. Assistant Chief David DeKay has been acting chief and retires later this year. Bevan is expected to leave if she does not get promoted.
The positions of three out of 11 majors are also in play. Internal promotions will create new openings for sergeants and lieutenants. “Yeah, the new chief is going to have a considerable job,” Councilman Karl Nurse said. “A long list of issues to confront.”