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Doral names, swears in new police chief

The Doral Police Department has a new chief.

After a nearly two-month search, Richard Blom, a former assistant police chief for the Miami Police Department, was selected among nearly 90 applicants to take on the role of police chief.

The title was previously held by Ricardo “Ricky” Gomez.

Blom, 61, was sworn in Tuesday in the Doral City Council chambers during a press conference in which his appointment was announced.

Blom said his top priorities for the department include suppressing crime, a stronger focus on traffic congestion, increased officer training and the strengthening of community partnerships.

“I have no doubt we are going to make some significant progress in all of these areas,” Blom said, adding that he believed passion and enthusiasm are key to carrying out the job of a police officer properly. “Providing public safety and security to the community is what we do as a police department. Delivering those services in a professional and enthusiastic manner, coupled with a compassionate approach to the community, is how we are going to do it.”

Blom will be paid $110,000 annually, plus benefits, to command the department of 130 employees, 90 of whom are sworn officers.

Some issues that Blom may have to deal with in his new role are low morale, a culture of favoritism and cliques that are said to have been problems in the department in the past.

In a previous interview, former interim city manager Merrett Stierheim had said that those factors, along with a review of a 2011 Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation on Gomez, led to his decision in December to give Gomez the choice of being fired or resigning.

Gomez elected to be fired.

The FDLE investigation on Gomez began when an anonymous letter was sent to then-city manager Yvonne Soler-McKinley accusing Gomez of rigging bids to buy office furniture and misappropriating taxpayer money to help pay for a nearly $26,000 swearing-in ceremony at a Doral resort.

The state attorney’s office released a no-action memorandum at the conclusion of the investigation saying there was no evidence that Gomez committed any crimes.

“Many departments have morale that goes up and down,” Blom said, adding that he plans on sitting down with other officers and letting them know what his expectations are for them and the department. “Anytime someone new comes on board, people want to know, ‘What’s going to happen to me? How is this going to affect my life?’ ”

His plan is to concentrate on the issues.

“If we have officers who want to come in and concentrate on issues that concern the citizens — crime, traffic, things of that nature — then morale should be good, because they will be doing that they want to do: concentrating on issues that affect people here,” Blom said.

As far as what he is going to do differently — he said he doesn’t know yet.

“I don’t know what has been done before. I have to evaluate what has been done before, but I can tell you what I will do,” Blom said. “I will sit down with my officers. I always think that … no matter what the rank, the first responsibility of a supervisor is the growth and development of the employee. ”

Blom began his law enforcement career with the Miami Police Department in 1975 and left in 2006 as captain of the operations division.

He then worked with the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department as a police major in administration before returning to the Miami department as an assistant police chief.

He parted ways with the department about a year ago because “they had a new chief and he was going in another direction, and I thought that was a good time to leave,” Blom said, adding that he used his time off from work to take care of his father, who died about five months ago.

Aside from law enforcement, Blom holds a masters in public management from St. Thomas University. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

“I chose Chief Blom because I thought he fit the best for the qualities we need in a police chief for the city of Doral,” City Manager Joe Carollo said. “He has gone through every facet as commander of police work and on top of that has tremendous knowledge of budgeting and financing and human resources.”

Carollo added that the presence of social cliques in the Doral department “is a culture that was there before and is a culture that is going to end now.”

“The bottom line is this: Chief Blom knows how to deal with police officers. He will deal with everyone with fairness and justice,” Carollo said. “There is not going to be any favoritism.”

Mayor Luigi Boria echoed those feelings.

“A department like this needs to be managed with professionalism rather than favoritism,” Mayor Luigi Boria said, adding that he believes Blom is capable of doing well in his role. “The leadership is everything.”

A previous version of this article misstated the annual salary of the new police chief.