The town presented Pete Cumming with this cake during his retirement ceremony.
The town of Longboat Key held a retirement ceremony Friday afternoon for retiring Police Chief Pete Cumming.
Cumming has officially ended a 40-year career in law enforcement, which includes the last 12.5 years in Longboat Key.
“This community is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered from county law enforcement, state law enforcement and in a municipal in a small town, it was an awakening for me,” Cumming said. “I didn’t think anything this small could be so good.”
During a private ceremony Friday afternoon, Deputy Police Chief Frank Rubino presented Cumming with a commemorative plaque on behalf of the town. Rubino said he’s known Cumming since 2004, dating back to their days working for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
“[Former Town Manager] Dave Bullock gave him the opportunity to step up and be the chief of police,” Rubino said. “I think he’s done an incredible job. He put a great team together. It’s been a pleasure working with him.”
While Cumming began working for the Longboat Key Police Department in March 2008, he became police chief in 2012 after the death of his friend and former Police Chief Al Hogle.
On Friday, Cumming gave a special thanks to Fire Chief Paul Dezzi.
“From the first day that I took over, Paul came to my office and sat down and said, ‘whatever you need,’ and he has been my strength many times here,” Cumming said. “I appreciate you, Paul.”
After the ceremony, officers and firefighters lined up outside of the police department to salute Cumming and his wife Diane before they drove off together in retirement. Rubino also presented Cumming with an American flag.
“It’s been a high privilege for me to have spent the last dozen years representing the citizens of Longboat Key,” Cumming said during Monday’s virtual commission workshop. “During my time here, I’ve worked with some of the finest professionals in local government, providing what I believe to be the highest level of service possible.”
At Monday afternoon’s town commission workshop meeting, Cumming thanked his partners in other departments.
“Working together has been a high point for me, and after 40 years of public service, I could not have scripted a better final chapter in my professional life story,” Cumming said. “I will remember my time here as a gift, and I will miss this community and its people.”
Town Manager Tom Harmer and the Longboat Key Town Commission also expressed their appreciation to Cumming on Monday.
“[I have] mixed [feelings] today, but [I’m] sad to see Pete go,” Harmer said. “[I am] excited to see him move onto the next phase. The department is in a good place.”
Here’s what the commissioners had to say about Cumming:
Mayor Ken Schneier: “We have a department and certainly a leader…who understand the people in this community. They’re skilled and alert, but they’re sensitive to the needs of our people and our peculiar demographic. Pete, you definitely get our community. It’s been a wonderful 12 years, and best of luck to you going forward.
Vice Mayor Mike Haycock: “When the leader leaves an organization, the true testament is is what did they leave behind? I'll never forget when I was interviewing for the commissioner job and I talked to Pete. And, Pete mentioned his hiring practices, and he told me that he hired senior folks that had quite a bit of experience. And I asked him why. And he said, ‘Well, he didn't hire people to give tickets, he hires people to serve the citizens.’ And so I think we should feel really great that the hiring practices he's used, and it has really led to the service-first mentality that all of our police officers have.”
District 2 Commissioner George Spoll: “On behalf of myself and the two-thirds of the population that live in condominiums, I have heard throughout the years nothing but the best about your leadership, chief. I want to thank you on all our behalf.”
District 4 Commissioner Jack Daly: “I think, without any hesitation, you’ve been as fine a chief that’s available to Longboat Key. At any time I’ve had any reason to call on behalf of citizens, particularly in my district, you were there, you responded quickly and efficiently, and it’s appreciated by all.”
District 5 Commissioner Ed Zunz: “Chief Cumming has always been available to speak. [He’s] so friendly and to discuss any matter that you may have concern with. He takes appropriate action when that’s what should be done. He’s just a pleasure to deal with and he’s going to be missed.”
At-Large Commissioner BJ Bishop: “It has been an honor. Please don’t let Longboat become a faraway place. The Blue Dolphin will miss you terribly if they don’t see you there at least once a week. We will miss you. Thank you. You have been just an incredible chief.”
Incoming Police Chief Kelli Smith will begin her role Oct. 26.
Smith was the chief of police for the University of Northern Arizona.
Before heading west, Smith served as a commander in the University of Central Florida police department.