In a surprise move, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced the selection of a new police chief, but the choice was none of the four finalists in the selection process that started late last year.
Instead, Kriseman hired Anthony Holloway, the chief from neighboring Clearwater, stunning city council members and police department employees who seemed convinced the mayor would choose current assistant police chief Melanie Bevan.
"This process brought me clarity and led me to realize what we needed most: Someone familiar with us, but not of us," said Kriseman in a written statement.
"Clearly we were all blindsided," said Karl Nurse, a city council member whose district covers some of St. Petersburg's higher crime areas.
"One of the finalists for the job was an internal candidate, and that would have been my choice," Nurse said, referring to Bevan.
Nurse said he hoped that Holloway would meet with Bevan to discuss ways to bridge the communication gap between the public and police officers.
"If the police don't engage with the public, they don't have sources," said Nurse. "Frankly, in the toughest areas, people are not calling the police."
The president of CONA, the Council of Neighborhood Associations, said she too was taken off guard by the selection of Holloway.
"I was surprised like everybody else," said Lisa Wheeler-Brown.
Bill Horne, Clearwater's city manager, said he became aware of Holloway's decision to leave his police department last Thursday, and it was the first he had heard of any interest in Holloway.
"I did expect our mayor to get at least a courtesy call to say here's a heads up," Horne said.
Holloway is known as a supporter of community policing and will likely bring some of the strategies he used in Clearwater to St. Petersburg.
"He practices what he preaches," Horne said. "He's out there in the field. He knows what the officers are experiencing out there."
Kriseman is expected to make a formal introduction of Holloway as the police chief Tuesday morning.