TAMPA, Fla. – The chief of the Tampa Police Department announced Thursday he is retiring.

Eric Ward spent 29 years with the Tampa Police Department, according to the city’s website.

“I’d like to thank the community,” Ward said. “The community embraced me. Together we were able to do great things for the city.”

The Tampa native spent the last two years serving as the city's police chief.

On Thursday, Ward did not say when he is last day will be as chief.

Ward is set to become the director of security for Coca-Cola Beverage of Florida, which is based in Tampa. He said he'd discussed the job in the private sector for several months.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the city will begin a national search for Ward's replacement. Buckhorn expects the process to take up to four months.

Assistant Chief Brian Dugan will run the department in the interim. Buckhorn said he'd consider Dugan and other internal candidates for the job.

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