ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman formally announced Anthony Holloway as St. Pete’s new chief of police Tuesday at the St. Petersburg police headquarters downtown, garnering much applause from those on hand.
After thanking Interim Police Chief David DeKay for being a steady leader during a very crucial transitional time, Kriseman welcomed Holloway to the city’s police force.
“Today is the day that the St. Petersburg Police Department begins its transformation,” the mayor said. “Today is the day that this department reclaims its spot as a leader in the law enforcement community. Our residents, visitors, business owners, our children, they deserve the very best.”
A native of the Tampa Bay area and an Eckerd College graduate, Holloway most recently served as the police chief in Clearwater, a position he held since 2010. Before that he served various positions in the Clearwater police department, including patrol division commander, patrol district commander and economic crimes unit supervisor.
From 2007 to early 2010, he served as police chief of Somerville, Mass. His accolades include the International Association of Chiefs of Police Award in 2012 and Excelsior status from the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, also in 2012.
With an at-ease demeanor and a visible enthusiasm, Holloway appeared ready to roll up his sleeves and go right to work as he addressed the crowd at the police headquarters.
“There are a lot of good men and women here at the St. Pete police department,” Holloway affirmed, “and we’re going to show you that we are a force that’s going to stand together.”
Holloway noted that in the years after 9/11 law enforcement departments stepped up and turned much of their focus on fighting terrorism, but the all-important connection with the individual communities was diminished.
“We’re going to build some bridges back to our community,” he stated.
Though Holloway did not initially put his name in for the job, he said he’s happy he got that call from Mayor Kriseman.
“When the mayor called me on the phone I said, ‘You know what? That’s the next place I want to be. That’s a new challenge, a great boss I’m going to be working for [and] the city is great,’” he said as he emphatically pronounced that he’s “happy to be here.”
Kriseman reiterated that during his campaign he wanted to conduct a nationwide search for the city’s next police chief, and narrowed down the potential candidates, but admitted that he could only judge candidates so much based on resumes and videos alone.
“You don’t know until you meet people face to face,” the mayor said. “After we did our interviews, after obtaining feedback from council and after hearing from the public, what I became convinced of was that while there were tremendous skills in those candidates, it wasn’t the right fit for what we need at this time in this department.”
Kriseman added that he had stated right from the beginning it was his duty as mayor to hire the best chief for the best department, and that’s why he ended up going outside the initial list of candidates.
“I reached out to Chief Holloway,” Kriseman explained. “I was impressed in our initial discussion. We had a follow up discussion before we met face to face. I asked him the same questions that I asked every other candidate, the difference being I liked every answer that I got from him. I am thrilled to have Chief Holloway as my new chief.”
Lisa Wheeler-Brown, president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations, informed the crowd that the mayor had told her that he wanted to make the best choice for the community.
“I can assure you he did not take this lightly,” she said. “St. Petersburg needs a progressive police chief in order to move things forward. I’m looking forward to working with Chief Holloway to improve the quality of life for all of our residents and visitors.”
Holloway said that regaining cohesion within a police department that some regard as lacking unity is high on his agenda.
“I know how in the paper you put a lot of things about how we’re split and we’re divided,” he said, “but we’re going to get back under one leadership, one direction. That’s on my agenda, to get us all back on the same sheet of music.”
Holloway stressed that he wants to connect with each and every one of the 545 officers on the force and even with the individual residents of the city.
“I think there are 250,000 people that live in the city of St. Pete, so I have to go out and try to meet all of those,” he quipped, adding the word “hopefully” with a smile.