City manager preparing search for next Cape Coral police chief

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Rob Hernandez
Rob Hernandez, former Cape Coral city manager. Credit: WINK News.

Cape Coral Police Department will soon be without a chief, as Chief Dave Newlan accepts his new role with The School District of Lee County.

The City of Cape Coral is on the clock Thursday to search for the city’s next chief of police.

“Finding the right police chief is probably the most difficult decision that a city manager can make,” City Manager Rob Hernandez said.

Newlan is retiring and moving to a safety and security management position at Lee County school district. That leaves Hernandez with less than six weeks to hire a new chief.

“That process, once I get started, it will involve conducting a search using an executive search firm,” Hernandez said.

The last four times the chief’s job became vacant, Cape Coral promoted from within CCPD. That could happen again, but the approach to the search is a bit different.

“We’re determined to have a broader open process this time around rather than before to see if there are other candidates from elsewhere that will fit the community,” Hernandez said. “We don’t know unless we find out elsewhere, and so that’s what we’re doing.”

Hernandez told us, whoever the new chief is, he or she will face many challenges, starting with the contained growth of Southwest Florida’s largest city.

“The department is going to continue to grow, and how do we manage that growth?” Hernandez said.

Leland Coffee spent 30 years in law enforcement before retiring to Cape Coral. He has his own ideas about what qualities he wants in his next chief.

“Mostly integrity, upholding the law, should have experience,” Coffee said. “We need that diversity in the police department because the community is diverse.”

Those are all qualities on the city manager’s list.

“An individual that embraces diversity, that embraces technology, that embraces change,” Hernandez said.

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