River Cities

Miami Springs narrows police chief candidates to four

An advisory board has recommended four candidates for consideration to be the next Miami Springs police chief.

The advisory panel included Doral Police Chief Donald Delucca, North Miami Police Chief Leonard Burgess, and Assistant Director Randall Heller of the Miami-Dade County police. They interviewed 10 candidates on Tuesday before recommending the four finalists.

The finalists, in order of the board’s ranking, are as follows:

▪ Armando A. Guzman, public safety chief, Miami Dade College, 30 years’ experience.

▪ Rafael P. Hernandez, an investigator with the Miami-Dade State Attorneys’ Office, 40 years’ experience.

▪ Van Toth, Hialeah Gardens police chief, 21 years’ experience.

▪ Thomas W. Cannon, former Miami assistant police chief, 28 years’ experience.

The top four applicants were among 97 current and former police officials, federal agents and security consultants who applied to lead the city’s department.

The city’s Human Resources department forwarded the four names, on Oct. 22, to City Manager Ron Gorland, who is charged with making the final decision.

“We’re currently in process of contacting each of the top four candidates to get their applications, which are necessary to the background checks,” said Gorland.

The salary for the new police chief will start at up to $114,406 a year, plus benefits, according to the city. The new chief will be responsible for a department with 42 officers and a budget of nearly $6 million.

Peter Baan, the current chief, is in the city’s Deferred Retirement Option Program and must leave his post at the end of the year. Baan, who has been with the Miami Springs Police Department since 1974, earned $137,970 last year and will leave his post with an $11,000-a-month pension benefit.

Some of the requirements for the chief’s slot, according to a revised city job posting, include:

▪ A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, police science, criminology, or a related field.

▪ At least seven years of “progressively responsible” experience.

▪ Passing a “rigorous” background check.

The city also noted a preference for a Spanish-speaking candidate.

“The initial background checks for the top four candidates will take about a week,” said Gorland, who added that a “much more detailed final background check” will be conducted for the final candidate.

“My target is to make an offer no later than early December subject to a successful background check,” Gorland said.