Chief Harmon on vacation until Jan. 4 retirement - FOX 13 News

Chief Harmon on vacation until Jan. 4 retirement

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St. Petersburg's Police Chief the past 12 years declined interviews as he quietly slipped out of office Wednesday.

Technically, Chuck Harmon is on vacation, and assistant police chief David DeKay is acting chief until Harmon retires January 4th.

Then DeKay will be interim chief until Harmon is replaced. And that search for a new police chief?

"It's on hold," human resources director Gary Cornwell said, after pointing to a pile of 57 applications. "Truthfully, I just scanned these as they came in because I wasn't going to spend a whole lot of time on it until I had further direction."

That direction will come from mayor-elect Rick Kriseman, who does not take office until January 2nd. Kriseman appointed several transition advisory committees, including one covering public safety.

Presumably, that would include criteria for a new police chief, but the Kriseman transition has gone silent. The mayor-elect did not respond to messages. The chairman of the public safety committee told FOX 13 News "somebody will get back to you," and no documents are posted on a website touted as a conduit for transition transparency.

Kriseman defeated Mayor Bill Foster in November, which immediately halted the search for a new chief.

Chief Harmon's departure received lukewarm nods of farewell from those who served under him.

"I think there were mixed feelings on Chief Harmon on both sides of the fence," FOP president Karl Lounge told FOX 13 News. "Some support him, some didn't support him."

Lounge thinks mid-level managers [sergeants and lieutenants] are ready for change.

"We've had the same managers in place for many years," Lounge observed. "We're looking for a police chief that's open minded and willing to support the troops. I mean, it's as simple as that."

PBA vice president George Lofton described Harmon as " OK chief." Lofton noted Harmon rarely joined officers on the street, becoming a remote entity to many police employees.

"They like the examples of what they see in some of the other higher profile heads of law enforcement here in the Bay area like a [Polk County Sheriff] Grady Judd or a [Tampa police chief] Jane Castor."

Lofton agreed with Lounge's desire for a more supportive leader.

"They're really hoping that they get somebody that has been there, walked in their shoes, and remembers what it's like to walk in their shoes and what they deal with on a day-to-day basis," Lofton said.

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