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Tampa interim police chief Lee Bercaw gets the permanent job

 Lee Bercaw speaking at a small podium with the police department logo on it, and a bunch of people standing behind him, including Mayor Jane Castor and several police officers.
City of Tampa
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During the news conference, Bercaw said he’s focused on improving the department, which he said is already “well-respected” with a vacancy rate below 5%.

He has been with the Tampa Police Department for nearly 27 years, serving in several roles.

Tampa has its next permanent police chief.

Lee Bercaw will shed the interim title and lead the region's largest agency.

Mayor Jane Castor announced at a Friday news conference that Bercaw would take on the permanent title of police chief.

Castor said the city considered a national search to determine who would best fit the role, but decided the home-grown Bercaw was the best option.

“As Lee Bercaw has acted as the interim chief of police over the past six months, I have watched him navigate through so many different issues and do an outstanding job,” Castor said. “He has not only continued to hold the Tampa Police Department up to the standards that our community expects, he has grown in moving this department forward.”

Bercaw took over for former police chief Mary O'Connor in December after she resigned when body camera footage showed her asking to be let go from a traffic stop and showing her badge while she was on a golf cart with her husband.

O'Connor lasted less than a year in the role.

Bercaw has been with the Tampa Police Department for nearly 27 years, serving in several roles, including leading law enforcement efforts during major events like the Super Bowl, Gasparilla, and the Republican National Convention.

“It's my goal to enhance our community policing, in our neighborhood policing, where every officer knows their community members, and every community member knows their officer on that unique neighborhood approach,” Bercaw said. “And those are examples of things that are already happening. And already, the community wants to feel safe.”

During the news conference, Bercaw said he’s focused on improving the department, which he said is already “well-respected” with a vacancy rate below 5%.

“Continue the momentum that we've already had,” Bercaw said. “Our focus on crime reduction, community engagement, and community policing. It's not just an initiative. It's a philosophy that we're embracing.”

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