Mayor holds firm on police chief decision

Mayor Ashton Hayward isn’t changing his mind about David Alexander stepping down as the police chief. On next week’s city council agenda, he is recommending that Tommi Lyter take command on the Pensacola Police Department.

Because the position is one of the few that is clearly designated a department head, Hayward must get council approval of the appointment, according to the city charter. The mayor offers no explanation for this appointment, other than giving the council Lyter’s resume – Résumé for Tommi Lyter dated April 2017.

Alexander was appointed Police Chief in July 2015. He was the first African-American Chief of Police in the 194-year history of the Pensacola Police Department. He agreed in writing to retire when his DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Program) date was reached which is later this month. It’s been clear for the past two years that Lyter would be Alexander’s successor.

A Facebook page praising Alexander has been deleted – Thank you, Chief David Alexander, III.

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2 thoughts on “Mayor holds firm on police chief decision

  1. The fact that Hayward promoted Lyter in 2015 at the same time he promoted Alexander made it very clear that Lyter was going to be the next Chief. Alexander is a fine person but when he testified before the City Council to include participating in the budget workshop he seemed unfamiliar with the details. On the other hand, Lyter is a master of the details. When Hayward nominated Allen to be the Fire Chief, something he delayed doing for years, he seized control of the department head confirmation process forbidding the City Council to ask Allen to describe his qualifications or what was broken in the Pensacola Fire Department (a lot) that needs fixing. Bare meekly let Hayward have his way with the City Council. It will be interesting to see if Spencer does the same. As for Alexander’s appointment in 2015, he probably did not help his case by then telling so many people that he got the job because Hayward wanted to appease the city’s African-American community. I heard that from many mutual friends to include a very well-respected member of the city’s African-American community who told me what Alexander had told him, telling me without any prompting on my part. The City Council should but probably will not use the Police Chief confirmation process to prompt a discussion about crime in the city. Last year, Bare sent me a hysterical e-mail angered that I was saying that the City Council bore some responsibility for crime in the city. Bare whose initial focus back to when he ran for Mayor had been – “Public Safety is Job #1 – changed his view to “We Are Not Involved.” Crime is down nationwide to include in Florida. Yet, the “per capita” crime rate inside Pensacola city limits increased by 1% from 2001 to 2015. The fact that so few PPD Officers will live in the city tells you that something is wrong. It would not surprise me to learn that more PPD Officers live in Pace than in Pensacola. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement should soon release the crime statistics for 2016. In general, the per capita crime rate in the City of Pensacola is about four times that of Santa Rosa County with more crimes in the city (less than 24 square miles) last year than in all of Santa Rosa County (1,012)square miles). Last year, the “per capita” murder rate in Pensacola was five times that of New York City. During last summer’s City Council budget workshop there was no discussion about how to address the high crime rate in the city. Much of the discussion centered on the full-time assignment of police vehicles to PPD Officers who do not live inside city limits. Alexander spoke in gibberish saying that the policy “prevents” crime in the city and provides for “quicker deployment” of his officers. When pressed, he admitted without explanation that less than 10% of PPD Officers live inside city limits. Wu added, “Many officers do not want to live in the city.” No one on the City Council wants to discuss what it would take to encourage PPD Officers to live in our neighborhoods to include a higher salary for those who do, limiting the full-time vehicle privilege to PPD Officers who live in the city or even just buying a home for any PPD Officer who agrees to live inside city limits. Adding insult to injury, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners forces city property owners to subsidize Sheriff’s road patrols outside of city limits. Because of the helter-skelter way in which the Sheriff’s Office is funded – the Board making the funding decisions not the Sheriff – about $10 million of county property taxes paid by “city property owners” is used to subsidize the cost of Sheriff’s road patrols outside of city limits to include in the Town of Century. The Escambia County Consolidation Study Commission on which I served in 2009-2010 put together a horrible “consolidation” plan, a plan so bad I voted against it and it was rejected by the state legislative delegation. However, everyone was in agreement that it made a lot of sense to consolidate public safety functions. The one true fiscal conservative on the County Commission is Jeff Bergosh. When he becomes Chairman later this year, I hope there will be a newfound interest in functional consolidation to improve local government services at a reduced cost.

  2. I wonder why they never look at outside individuals for chief. They are always next man up. I wouldn’t hurt to advertise the position, maybe get some new ideas.

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