With about 120 applications on his desk, City Manager Bob Bartolotta concluded the first phase of a search for a new Sarasota police chief.
The deadline to submit applications was Aug. 31. Interim Police Chief Mikel Hollaway submitted his application just before the deadline, but Bartolotta said an application wasn’t really necessary for Hollaway.
“It’s merely a formality,” he said.
The two met the day of the deadline and discussed the permanent chief’s position. Bartolotta did not want to reveal the details of their conversation, but did say he believes the interim chief is interested in the job.
Hollaway, a 28-year veteran of the Sarasota Police Department, was appointed to the position in May, after former Chief Peter Abbott resigned.
Bartolotta said he has been pleased with Hollaway’s performance and had hoped he was interested in taking the job full-time.
There had been some question whether Hollaway would want the job, however, because he is about two years from retirement.
Several citizens are pushing a petition drive, both online and in public, urging Bartolotta to dispense with the search and immediately hire Hollaway.
Resident Diana Hamilton created the petition because she feels the city is too divided right now.
“Chief Hollaway is a uniting figure,” she said.
Hamilton said she has collected 60 signatures in person, and as of Aug. 31, 57 people had signed the online petition. Online supporters include police union President Mick McHale, former City Auditor and Clerk Billy Robinson and Public Defender Larry Eger.
“It’s best to have someone (as chief) who knows us, instead of a stranger,” Hamilton said.
Bartolotta said it’s possible that if after examining all the applications he doesn’t find any suitable applicants, he could appoint Hollaway chief at that time.
The city manager wants to name a new chief by Dec. 1.
Hollaway did not return messages seeking comment.
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