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Longboat Key Monday, Apr. 5, 2021 1 month ago

Longboat Key to begin search for new police chief

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Current Longboat Key Police Chief Kelli Smith's resignation is effective as of April 30.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

 Longboat Key will soon begin searching for a new police chief for the second time in less than a year.

Police Chief Kelli Smith announced last week she would resign from her position on April 30. Smith is due to start on May 3 as police chief of Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.

“I said in my statement, we were disappointed, but I think it’s a great opportunity for Chief Smith and I’ve wished her well in the transition and I want to focus on now what’s best for the town moving forward,” Town Manager Tom Harmer said.

Smith, who started Oct. 26, 2020, declined to speak with the Longboat Observer and instead referred to her resignation letter.

“I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for the privilege of serving as the Chief of Police for the Town of Longboat Key,” Smith wrote in her letter. “During my tenure, we were able to accomplish a lot.

“I feel confident in leaving the police department in a position of upward trajectory with the right leadership.”

In her cover letter to FGGU, Smith wrote: “In 2020, I returned to Florida and have been the police chief for the town of Longboat Key. While this opportunity is rewarding, I deeply miss the student experience side of university policing and the opportunity to engage with tomorrow’s leaders.”

The town is set to select an interim chief while looking for Smith’s permanent successor.

“It’s an area that I plan to be patient on, especially the longer-term appointment of a permanent chief,” Harmer said. “I don’t want to rush into that. I want to take our time with that, so we’re not going to advertise it immediately.”

Harmer mentioned how the town has a few weeks before having to implement either an interim or permanent police chief. He said the town is finalizing the interim appointment process.

The town had discussions with employees within the police department, department heads and had nearby law enforcement agencies assist in the interview process to hire Smith.

“It’s something that we'll do again,” Harmer said.

Police Chief Kelli Smith and Deputy Chief Frank Rubino attended a March awards ceremony for the Longboat Key Police Department.

Deputy Police Chief Frank Rubino was among two internal candidates who applied for the police chief role before the town decided to hire Smith. Former Police Chief Pete Cumming promoted Rubino to deputy chief in April 2014. Rubino took a job as Longboat Key police captain in February 2013.

“Any qualified applicant will be able to submit,” Harmer said. “It’s too early in the process to say how many there will be or whatnot, but anyone that’s interested in the position internally should communicate that to us.”

In October 2020, Cumming retired after a 40-year career in law enforcement, which included 12 1/2 years in Longboat Key.

Smith fills the vacancy left by former FGCU Police Chief Steven Moore, who retired in March after 38 years in law enforcement. Moore's tenure included 15 years of service at FGCU.

In October 2020, Smith began her role as the Longboat Key police chief. Smith came into the position with 29 years of law enforcement experience, which included roles with the police departments of North Arizona University and the University of Central Florida.


 

Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

See All Articles by Mark

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