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Sarasota Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021 1 week ago

Citizen input to guide police chief search

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Tasked with hiring a police chief twice in less than a year, City Manager Marlon Brown is taking a more deliberate approach to filling the vacancy the second time around.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

When the city had a sudden vacancy at the top of the Sarasota Police Department this year, City Manager Marlon Brown was quick to act, promoting Capt. Jim Rieser to chief less than 48 hours after Bernadette DiPino resigned.

Seven months later, the police chief job was vacant again when Rieser announced his retirement, citing health-related reasons. This time, Brown is taking a different approach. Although the city named Deputy Chief Rex Troche as the interim police chief the same day Rieser announced his retirement, Brown did not make a swift permanent hire.

Nearly two months later, the position remains unfilled, and Brown is looking to the public to provide input. During the September meeting of the Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations, Brown said he wanted to set up an opportunity for residents to share their thoughts on what criteria should be used to fill the job.

“I would like to have a process where I hear from the community in terms of what they’d like to see from the next chief because at the end of the day, this individual is the one that will be providing the resources to protect and serve you,” Brown said.

Rieser’s promotion came during Brown’s first full month as manager. At the time, Brown said his hiring philosophy would seek to identify internal candidates when applicable, highlighting the advantages of elevating an employee familiar with the city while avoiding the length and cost of a nationwide search.

“I don’t want to ever discount that there may be external candidates when there is a need, and we may not be able to identify someone who is primed and ready to move up,” Brown said in a February interview. “The hiring philosophy is to hire the best talent, to hire someone of high ethical values, someone who knows how to treat employees, knows how to get the job done.”

City spokesperson Jason Bartolone said Brown is still formulating plans on how to proceed. Bartolone said Brown was confident in Troche’s ability to lead the police department on an interim basis, which allowed the city manager to act more deliberately with regards to making a hire.

“He wants to take a really thoughtful approach to how we’re going to move forward,” Bartolone said.

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