Lyter leaving to be ECSO chief deputy

Press release: Pensacola Police Chief Tommi Lyter has announced his retirement from the Pensacola Police Department after 30 years of dedicated service to the community.

Chief Lyter began his career with Pensacola Police Department as a police officer in August 1990 and was appointed Chief of Police on May 11, 2017. Before serving as chief, he was promoted to sergeant in 2003, promoted to lieutenant in 2006, to captain in 2014, and to Assistant Chief on July 16, 2015.

“As I approach my retirement from the Pensacola Police Department, I am thankful for several things,” Chief Lyter said. “I have been able to serve for over 30 years in a community that I love, and work with some of the finest law enforcement officers in the profession. I am especially thankful for my command staff that have served, and continue to serve, with excellence during my tenure. The past year has been especially difficult for law enforcement; however, I know that the Pensacola Police Department and the City of Pensacola are in safe hands while the Mayor and his team search for the next police chief.”

Chief Lyter’s last day with the Pensacola Police Department will be Dec. 27, at which time Deputy Chief Kevin Christman will be named the interim Chief of Police.

“I’d like to express my sincere thanks to Chief Lyter for his dedicated service to the citizens of Pensacola throughout his career, and for his steadfast leadership during difficult times,” Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said. “I wish him all the best in his future endeavors, and I know Pensacola is in very capable hands with the strong leadership team Chief Lyter has established at PPD.”

The City of Pensacola will be engaging the services of a search firm to conduct a nationwide search for the next Chief of Police for the Pensacola Police Department.

The search process will include engaging community and department members, extensive outreach to highly qualified individuals in Florida and across the nation, a screening process and more. The search will also involve an inclusive selection process that includes several panels made up of police, community, law enforcement partners and city leaders.

The City of Pensacola will provide more information and keep the public informed as the selection process moves forward.

Lyter will become the new chief deputy for Sheriff Chip Simmons. You expect that announcement soon. ;-)


3 thoughts on “Lyter leaving to be ECSO chief deputy

  1. Well it looks like I was right about them forgetting to remove the link, they have now removed the Crime Reports interactive map
    from the PPD web site. Appears if it was broke it wasn’t worth fixing.
    OR if it was removed on propose……Why?

  2. Interesting Mr. Lewis.
    On the Pensacola Police web site the Crime Reports interactive map has been down for at least a month. If you look at it casually it appears there is no crime in the city limits. PPD is not even listed as an agency in the area.
    I contacted PPD about this November 22, and was told IT (The tech department of the city) was looking into it. Maybe they are, I gave them the benefit of the doubt, but maybe it has been disconnected and they forgot to take the link off their web page.
    I hope they fix it. It’s good to know what to look for in your surroundings.

  3. Just FYI, the Pensacola Police Chief is supervised by the City Administrator not the Mayor. The Pensacola’s City Charter gives the Mayor the power to nominate a Police Chief subject to approval of the City Council. However, a City Administrator, who is currently not a city resident, runs the daily operations of the city government. This is why the city government lacks accountability with no one really in charge and lots of finger-pointing.

    In 2017, Mayor Ashton Hayward would not allow Police Chief-nominee Tommi Lyter to attend the City Council meeting where his nomination was considered and voted upon. Had Lyter been present, a City Council member might have asked a question about crime in the city or a citizen might have spoken to raise an issue that a City Council member would then redirect to Lyter. The current City Council does not strike me as mostly full of “chickens” like the one in 2016 and 2017, District 1 Councilman P.C. Wu once openly describing himself as “a chicken” saying that he did not like to stick out his “neck.”

    Under the current City Charter, the Police Chief is not accountable to the City Council, that could have the power to fire the Police Chief if given it, or to the public. One creative option might be to make the Police Chief position an elected office as done in some Florida cities. This would also ensure that the Police Chief is a city resident. Police Chief Chip Simmons was not a city resident and Lyter was not originally having been a Santa Rosa County resident. If the Police Chief was an elected official, they could be made subject to recall from office by voters and kept accountable using a two-year term of office.

    The one issue City Council members do not want to discuss is crime in the city. In 2016, Wu objected to allowing the public and media to hear a monthly crime report that for years had been presented to the City Council by the Police Chief, originally during a regular Thursday might meeting but later, because too many people watched that meeting on television or the computer, during a Monday agenda conference attended by few citizens. When expressing his support for keeping the monthly crime report secret from the public and media, Councilman Larry Johnson (a realtor) said that, like Wu, he too had been contacted by realtors upset about so much talk about crime in the city and, Johnson added, the only people who who showed up at the Monday meetings were the media. Wu’s comment was classic Wu. He said that letting the pubic hear the monthly crime report was “like taking dirty laundry and hanging it up.” Only Councilwoman Sherri Myers spoke up saying that the public had a right to know about the city’s crime stats.

    A few years ago, when there was a shooting in downtown involving an assault rifle, Channel 3 interviewed a realtor who was not worried saying that such shootings in downtown were “a sign of progress.” I guess that may be how it seems if you live in Gulf Breeze, Pace or Beulah but not to those of us who live in the city. In August, we had a shooting involving an exchange of gunfire – two large caliber rounds followed by five small caliber rounds – just four houses away from where I live in Scenic Heights. Four PPD units responded but nothing was ever reported in the PNJ or on Channel 3.

    Crime in the city is so bad that almost no PPD officers will live in the city. I have had PPD officers tell me that they would “never” want to live in the City of Pensacola because there is too much crime. One told me that there are too many drunks driving on the city’s roads at night. This issue last came up in public during a 2016 budget workshop when Council President Brian Spencer asked Police Chief David Alexander how many PPD officers lived in the city. Alexander said “not very many.” Pressed for specifics, Alexander said, “less than ten percent.” The city has 163 funded PPD sworn law enforcement officer positions.

    The City Council has no idea how many officers live in the city and which council districts and do not want to ask. In 2016, Wu had another typical Wu statement telling the City Council and public (I was the only member of the public present), “Many officers do not want to live in the city.” I have suggested to City Council members that they offer a tax free housing allowance to PPD officers who live in the city and limit assignment of a full-time PPD vehicle to officers who live in the city (the intent in 1970) but no one will speak up.

    Aside from the fact that the City Charter does “not” give the Mayor a power to appoint his own private advisory boards like the Citizens’ Police Advisory Committee, a view supported by the Charter Review Commission’s own public records, the one issue the committee might want to look into is crime in the city. Starting in 2002, Pensacola’s per capita FDLE/UCR crime rate (a unique way of ranking only 7 of 33 types of felonies so only a very partial snapshot of crime) has always been above the Florida per capita crime rate. In 2001, the city’s rate had been -6.7% below the state rate. In 2019, the city’s crime rate was +56.2% above the state rate, an increase from the 2018 number +54%. The city’s per capita crime rate went up relative to the state rate, slightly, after Robinson took office, a fact the PNJ has not figured out and reported.

    The “per capita” crime rate in the city is probably higher because, as example, in 2019 the population number used by the city to calculate its per capita crime rate was a mysterious “55,226.” We will soon see if that number is close to the 2020 census number. For comparison, the city’s 2018 Census Estimate was just 52,975.

    In 2019, Pensacola’s per capita crime rate was 3.7 times the rate in Santa Rosa County which explains why so many people now work in the city but live in Santa Rosa County. More PPD officers probably live in Santa Rosa County than in the City of Pensacola.

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