ST. PETERSBURG — As police officers, elected officials and community leaders looked on, Anthony Holloway officially became St. Petersburg’s police chief Wednesday morning.
“I feel like a rookie, starting all over, after taking that oath,” Holloway said.
Holloway’s wife, attorney Andra Dreyfus, pinned on his badge after he was sworn in by Judge Morris Silberman of Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal during a ceremony at Eckerd College’s Fox Hall. .
“I’ve watched Tony’s career for many years,” Silberman said. “The one thing that I admire about Tony, the characteristics that he brings, integrity, the ability to listen, to make decisions, to be a friend, to be a person who not only knows how to lead, but how to serve with others.”
Holloway was Clearwater’s police chief when he was hired July 21 by Mayor Rick Kriseman. St. Petersburg had conducted a national search that yielded more than 100 applicants, but Kriseman passed over four finalists and lured Holloway from its neighbor to the north.
Kriseman said he thinks Holloway will improve the department, modernizing its operations while bridging gaps that have for years divided the community and the department itself.
“Chief Holloway is a leader,” Kriseman said. “He knows what needs to be done and he knows how to do it. And I’m confident he will return this department to the prominence it once had. It’s time for a change, so let’s let the change begin.”
Holloway, 52, got right to work Wednesday, attending a closed afternoon meeting with the police department, according to a city spokeswoman.
Holloway has said his early focus will be to mend divisions within police ranks and to soothe relations between police and the community.
“This shining badge is a symbol of trust and authority all the officers, non-sworn personnel as well as the citizens of St. Petersburg, have placed in me,” Holloway said. “Every day, when we pin this badge over our hearts it is a reminder that we need to do everything we can do to use our powers wisely so that we can earn the trust and respect of our citizens. When one of us tarnishes this badge, that tarnishment can be spread to other badges.”
Eckerd College, where the ceremony took place, is Holloway’s alma mater.
He took evening and weekend courses while a Clearwater police officer, earning a bachelor’s degree in business management in 1999, Eckerd President Donald R. Eastman III said. He joined the Clearwater force in 1985 and moved up the ladder. He left the department to become police chief in Sommerville, Mass., in 2007, but returned to Clearwater as chief in 2010.
During his tenure in Clearwater, the department introduced Park, Walk and Talk, a program to get officers more engaged with their beats.
Holloway also championed Operation Graduate, a program that works to get more youths to finish high school and go onto higher education. He also advocated for education programs to give incarcerated people better odds at employment after their release.
In St. Petersburg, he will lead an agency that is twice the size of the Clearwater department.
Holloway’s contract pays him $155,000 per year for the remaining three years of Kriseman’s term as mayor, a time limit required by the city’s charter. He replaces Chuck Harmon, who retired in January. Assistant Police Chief David DeKay, who served as interim chief, is scheduled to retire in November.
“I have the utmost respect for him and I have no doubt that he will do a great job as the leader of the St. Petersburg Police Department,” Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, who considers Holloway a good friend, said Wednesday. “This agency is a great organization and Tony will be a great leader.”