TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In a news conference Friday, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced Lee Bercaw, the current interim chief of the Tampa Police Department, will become the permanent police chief.
Bercaw joined TPD in 1997, according to his biography on the department’s website, and has worked in all three of the city’s patrol districts. He also holds a doctorate in criminal justice.
In Friday’s news conference, Bercaw said he has worked “basically every position in the department” over his decades-long career.
The Tampa Police Department has been without a permanent police chief since Mary O’Connor’s resignation on Dec. 5, 2022. O’Connor resigned after body camera video surfaced that showed her touting her badge and status as police chief during a traffic stop in Nov. 2022. An internal investigation found that O’Connor abused her position and violated department standards during the incident.
Last month, a City of Tampa spokesperson told News Channel 8 that Castor was “in no rush” to fill the position. Castor previously expressed her intention to hire an outside firm to conduct a nationwide search.
“Mayor Castor has spoken with the Police Executive Research Forum about leading the search, but no contract is signed yet,” the statement read. “She wants to discuss with the new city council before beginning the search in earnest and is in no rush, given the strong leadership of Interim Chief Lee Bercaw.”
Tampa’s police chief is required to live in the city, and as of Dec. 2022, Bercaw does not. He previously said that moving would not be an issue, but Tampa City Council members can also vote to waive the residency requirement for up to a year, according to Tampa municipal code.