In a joint press conference with Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward announced his retirement Thursday morning.
Ward served the city for 29 years and was sworn in as Police Chief in May, 2015. Mayor Buckhorn says he took the city to the next level.
Ward is taking a position in the private sector with Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC. in the coming weeks.
"I know that I'm leaving the department in excellent shape and in good hands," he said. "Now I'm looking forward to the next chapter."
Ward says he had three goals: focus on violent crime, focus on youth, and training police officers. He believes he has achieved those goals.
Assistant Chief Brian Dugan has been appointed to serve as interim police chief.
The Mayor says he will conduct a national search to find the new chief, but did not rule out promoting from within. He says he wants to compete for the best of the best.
"This has been an extremely difficult decision," Ward said. "I have spent virtually my entire adult life at the Tampa Police Department. This department and the people here have made me the person that I am today. I will always be grateful to Mayor Bob Buckhorn for the experiences and opportunities to serve the Tampa community as their Chief of Police."
Buckhorn says he will be looking for diversity and progressive leadership in a process he anticipates taking three or four months.