Police Chief Mikel Hollaway will start his retirement tomorrow when Capt. Paul Sutton will take over as acting police chief for the next month.
City Manager Tom Barwin announced the move Friday to start a transition period for the Sarasota Police Department's preparation for Police Chief Bernadette DiPino to start Jan. 1. Hollaway was the city's first black police chief, along with other top ranks at the department, and gives way to the city's first female police chief.
Sutton will also organize a City Manager's City-County Homeless Advisory Task Force in the wake of this week's news about continued police behavioral issues with the homeless. Sutton also serves as the department's public information officer, working with the media and community for information inquiries.
Former police chief John Lewis will serve as the transition adviser to DiPino and to Barwin. Lewis left the department in 2000 after serving since 1989.
Among Lewis' tasks to complete is a comprehensive report due in 30 days outlining what changes are needed at the police department to make it the best in the state and the southern U.S. City leaders have implored that it's new chief and the department should to help turn the department's relations around in tough neighborhoods and to help deter the crime and the mistrust between some Newtown residents and the force.
“Chief Lewis has the familiarity, expertise and background to hit the ground running Monday,” Barwin said. “He assisted the City with the selection process for the next Chief of Police and I have every confidence that he is up to the task of providing insight into much needed training improvements at the SPD.”
The Homeless Advisory Task Force will meet every other week for 90 days seeking "immediate stop-gap solutions," particularly dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues.
“I want to thank Captain Sutton for accepting these interim assignments. He has served with the SPD for almost 29 years," Barwin said. "With his vast knowledge of the department and the community he will be able to step in and serve us well.”
To help with the transition of the department, Barwin will hold regular office hours at SPD 2099 Adams Lane from 9 to 11 a.m. every Thursday in December and welcomes to meet with the community as well as talking to police officers, Sutton and Lewis.
Hollaway was due to retire in October, and had actually contemplated retirement before he was appointed chief in 2010. Hollaway postponed his defnite retirement for a month to help with the transition.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude to Chief Hollaway for his continued service to the community beyond his scheduled retirement date,” Barwin said. “His 30 years of service and commitment to public safety and improving the quality of life in Sarasota is to be commended.”