The Independent Florida Alligator, October 7, 1999, page 5

Police chief selection surprises GPD employees

By Zophia Rendon, Alligator Writer


The confusion was apparent on the faces of police personnel Wednesday when they heard that Norman Botsford was chosen to be Gainesville's new police chief.

Though The Gainesville Sun reported Wednesday that another candidate, James Golden, was likely to be named the new police chief, City Manager Wayne Bowers announced at a Gainesville police staff meeting that Botsford would instead take the position.

GPD officers and staff members looked at one another in disbelief as they poured out of the packed conference room after hearing the news. Many were overheard saying they expected Golden to be the hands-down choice.

Others were heard asking, "Who is this guy?" in reference to Botsford, about whom they apparently had heard little before the announcement.

Bowers did not offer an explanation at the GPD meeting but later said that all the candidates were well qualified and choosing one was tough.

The main reason Golden, another candidate with extensive experience as a police chief, was not chosen is because he asked for too much money, Bowers said.

Botsford will be paid an annual salary of $86,000 after he assumes the position of chief on Nov. 1.

The qualification that distinguished Botsford was his 30 years of service in Florida law enforcement, including his year of service as interim police chief in Ft. Lauderdale, a city with similar issues to Gainesville but on a larger scale, Bowers said.

"I think he learned a lot (in Ft. Lauderdale) that will help him in Gainesville," he said.

Also, Botsford was chief of police in Columbia, MO., a town of 80,000 and home to the University of Missouri.

Bowers said experience as chief in a college town is one more thing that gave Botsford the edge in the selection process, which came down to five candidates from across the country who were interviewed in Gainesville in September.

Former Chief Don Shinnamon resigned in April following allegations of racial discrimination. Interim Chief Daryl Johnston has been in the position for the past six months and will do his best to make the transition a smooth one for the new chief, Bowers said.

Bowers said Botsford is aware of GPD's past problems but added that it is too early for him to talk about. any changes or new policies regarding race relations.