INDIAN SHORES — If three is the charm, then the town of Indian Shores may be hopeful that this third hire in the last six months for chief of police will do the trick. At a special meeting March 5, the Town Council unanimously approved their search committee’s selected candidate, Richard H. Swann Jr., for the police chief position.
Former Chief of Police E.D. Williams has stepped in twice as interim chief of police over the last six months to fill in when the town had two unexpected resignations. Williams was chief of police for 26 years at the Indian Shores Police Department prior to his retirement in 2014 when Terry Hughes became chief of police.
Hughes resigned last September due to health reasons and Williams filled in until a replacement could be found. Raimondo DeCunto, a captain serving on the police force at the time, was sworn in as the next chief of police on Dec. 11, but resigned less than a month later in the wake of allegations of misconduct. Williams again pitched in until a new chief could fill the position.
This time around, the Town Council is taking a more cautious approach to the hiring process. The top qualified candidate will be evaluated by a licensed behavior psychologist attached to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department.
The council’s acceptance of Swann is contingent upon him passing the final phase of the hiring process that includes physical, psychological and background testing, which is estimated to take another 7-10 days, according to Williams. Swann, who was in attendance at the meeting with his wife, Judi, “scored #1 in all aspects, and met with the mayor and each of the council members independently” after his initial interview with the search committee, Williams said.
The search committee consisted of Bonnie Dhonau, town administrator; E.D. Williams, interim chief of police; Susan Scrogham, director of finance and personnel; David Romine, retired chief; and Neil Rode, Indian Shores property owner and resident. The committee interviewed four candidates that had been narrowed down from the original 31 applicants.
In addition to being recommended by the search committee, Swann, as the top candidate, was also approved by the Administrative and Finance Committee at their meeting just prior to the Town Council’s special meeting.
Swann is a second-generation law enforcement officer with more than 40 years of command experience, according to his résumé. This experience includes 27 years with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney’s Office, and 18 years of reserve service with the Indian Shores Police Department. Swann is Florida law enforcement certified, has a bachelor of arts degree in business administration from Tampa College. where he graduated cum laude, and has a master of business administration from Saint Leo University. Swann is a resident of Indian Shores, having moved there recently from Tampa.
Salary negotiation took place during the special meeting. Swann requested an annual salary of $98,000, but does not need health insurance which is a savings of approximately $12,000 per year to the town. The Town Council unanimously approved Swann’s request.
With a positive outcome of the final checks, Swann is expected to be sworn in at the next Town Hall meeting. Williams will help facilitate the transition to the new police chief through the beginning of April.
After the meeting ended, Swann said, “I am looking forward to getting my feet wet and meeting the people (residents of Indian Shores).”