Key Biscayne’s search for a new Police Chief is down to two “highly capable” applicants. | Key Biscayne

Village Manager Steve Williamson announced Sunday evening that Major Frank Sousa, interim Assistant Chief of Police for the City of Fort Lauderdale, and Thomas “Pat” Hanlon, who had been the Assistant Director with Miami-Dade County Police, emerged as the two candidates still in contention.

Williamson said he will make his final decision over the next few weeks, keeping his original timeline in place to have a new leader by October.

“Both are highly capable and excited about putting in place a strong community policing program underpinned by addressing disorder, preventing crime and engaging with the community through increased police presence,” Williamson said.

Sousa joined the Fort Lauderdale Police Department on Sept. 13, 1999, earning Criminal Justice degrees at Nova Southeastern University while on the job. Currently serving as Major overseeing the Staff Support Bureau, Sousa has been assigned to several specialized units over the years, including as a Narcotics Detective with the Tactical Impact Unit; a Narcotics Supervisor with the Special Investigations Division; a Federal Task Force Officer with the Drug Enforcement Administration; and, as Captain, overseeing the Criminal Investigations Division.

Hanlon, coincidentally, announced his retirement last week, on Tuesday, Aug. 31, from the Miami-Dade Police Department after 38 years of service. That official video of his retirement celebration, in which he received praise from County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and others, was released that day.

Referring to Hanlon, as Badge #3934, the department’s speaker said: “It is a great honor to recognize you for your dedication, loyalty and service to the citizens of Miami-Dade County. You have spent your lifetime protecting and serving this community. Over your career, you’ve assisted the department during many significant events, including Papal and Presidential visits, Super Bowl games, labor disputes, civil unrest and riots, hurricanes, the ValuJet crash and the FIU bridge collapse (as well as canceling his vacation to lend aid in the Surfside condo collapse). We wish you a wonderful retirement and thank you for your service.”

There was no indication if the retirement coincided with future Police Chief plans for the 2015 graduate of the FBI’s National Academy.

Wisconsin, Connecticut and Virginia were just some of the locations where candidates applied from in a national search for the Key Biscayne Police Chief role.

But, when the list of 28 applicants was pared to seven to replace retired Chief Charles Press, they all had one thing in common: a South Florida background.

“Obviously, people in South Florida have a stronger sense of who we are and that’s a good thing,” Key Biscayne Mayor Mike Davey said. “These folks all have a sense of Miami-Dade County and I want people to coordinate with other police departments.”

The seven finalists were chosen by a three-person panel of law enforcement professionals: Chief Raleigh Flowers out of Bal Harbour Village, Chief David Rivero of the University of Miami, and Chief Jeanette Said-Jinete of Medley.

The other finalists were:

  1. Freddie Cruz, a police commander in Little Havana
  2. David De La Espriella, who works in criminal investigations as a Miami Beach major
  3. Antonio Diaz, a major with the City if Miami Police Department
  4. David Magnusson, a former of Miami major and now Chief at El Portal
  5. James Somohano, a Miami Shores Police lieutenant and a former Hialeah major

I’m satisfied with (all) the candidates; really good quality,” Williamson said. “When you get down to three to five, that’s where the rubber meets the road.”

Asked if he would have liked to have seen minorities among the finalists or have more diversity among the candidates — reportedly, only two women applied — Mayor Davey said: “Again, they went through the process and (the selection committee) did a pretty good job. I’m (the Village is) hiring the best person out there. But, sure, I would want minority candidates to be considered at this point (in any opening we have).”

Williamson echoed the same sentiment.

“I’m selecting the best Police Chief for the Village of Key Biscayne,” he said.

The advertised starting salary range is between $150,000 and $180,000.

In the meantime, Jason Younes has stepped up from his Deputy Chief role to serve in the interim, and just recently received high praise for his efforts — especially with maintaining a tight handle on juvenile misbehavior — from Council member Ignacio Segurola.

Younes did not apply for the Chief position.

Press, 67, had served in law enforcement some 46 years, the last 17 as Key Biscayne’s Chief, overseeing the 36-person police department.

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