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Hiring Tampa's next police chief will take months

Mayor Jane Castor hasn't set a deadline for the hire after Mary O'Connor resigned.

TAMPA, Fla. — The search is on for Tampa's next chief of police — a process that could take several months.

In the meantime, Tampa Police Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw will serve the interim role after former police Chief Mary O'Connor resigned Monday. An internal investigation found she used her position of authority to get out of a golf cart traffic stop last month.

Mayor Jane Castor hasn't set a deadline to make the hire, but it's her second time looking for Tampa's top cop in less than a year.

In January, the city of Tampa held a community forum to allow people to meet the three finalists for Tampa police chief — Ruben Delgado, who had been serving as interim; Cherise Giordani Gause, an assistant chief in Miami; and O'Connor, who ultimately got the job.

At the time, some city council members said the hiring process wasn't transparent enough.

According to city spokesperson Adam Smith, Castor consulted Rodney Monroe, a former police chief in North Carolina to conduct the search. Smith didn't know if Monroe was paid.

On Monday, after O'Connor's resignation, 10 Tampa Bay reporter Liz Crawford asked Castor what she'll do differently in this hiring process.

"Clearly, I picked the person that was best qualified for the position in the past and as I stated, I believe in second chances but there's no guarantee in those outcomes," Castor said. "We will do a very comprehensive and exhaustive search, nationwide search."

Dr. David Thomas, a professor in the Department of Justice studies at Florida Gulf Coast University, said agencies do different things when it comes to hiring a police chief.

"If I'm the mayor, I'm removing myself from the process. Then when the committee makes the decision on who to hire, they present that case or top three candidates and then I make the decision based on the information I have, that would be the fairest way to do it," Thomas said.

Castor served as Tampa's police chief for six years and spent a total of 31 years with the department.

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