Chief Deputy Mike Coffin among 6 finalists for chief in scandal-ridden NSBPD in wake of evidence room thefts

Mike Coffin, VCSO deputy sheriff is a finalist for NSBPD chief / Headline Surfer®NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- Mike Coffin, the chief deputy of Volusia County, is among six finalists for chief of the scandal-ridden New Smyrna Beach Police Department, still reeling in the wake of the evidence room thefts that have also resulted in four top cops in the past two years.

Mike Coffin, among the two local candidates along with retired South Daytona Police Chief Bill Hall, is considered a frontrunner and certainly the favorite in terms of overall experience and credibility, as far as New Smyrna Beach's newly-elected top leader is concerned.

"Yes, I would have to put Mike Coffin in the category of a favorite -- absolutely," Mayor Jim Hathaway told Headline Surfer® over the weekend.

"Yes, I would have to put Mike Coffin in the category of a favorite -- absolutely," Mayor Jim Hathaway told Headline Surfer® over the weekend.

Here is the list of six finalists provided before the close of business today by Carol Hargy, director of personnel for the city:

• John S. Bukata: Director of Campus Safety at Johnson & Wales University, North Miami Campus. Previous position includes district chief for Broward Sherriff’s Office, chief of police for City of Oakland Park, Fl. Thirty four years of law enforcement experience of which 17 years has been in a managerial role;

• McKinley "Mike" D. Coffin, Jr.: Chief deputy at Volusia County Sheriff’s Office since 2011. Has 27 years of law enforcement experience of which 17 years has been in a managerial role;

• William "Bill)" C. Hall: Law enforcement instructor at Daytona State College, and employed in retail sales at Bucks Gun Rack, Daytona Beach. Previous longtime chief of police in South Daytona. Has 35 years of law enforcement experience of which 17 years has been in a managerial role;

• James "Jim" D. Ritz: Chief of Police for City of Berwyn, IL.  Has 26 years of law enforcement experience and police chief for four-plus years;

• John Touhy: Chief of Police/Director of Safety at St. Xavier University Police, Chicago. Previous position as division chief/captain at Burbank, ILL. Police.  Has 32 years of law enforcement experience of which 20-plus years has been in a managerial role.

• Jason D. Umberger: Chief of Police at Swatara Township Police, Harrisburg, Pa.  Has 21 years of law enforcement experience of which nine years has been in a managerial role.

The city received 83 applications for the position, said Carol Hargy, the city’s human resources director. The salary range for the position is $75,670 to $115,689.

New Smyrna Beach officials have set up a panel that consists of the flowing in interviewing and ranking the final six: Jay Crocker, chair, Beachside Resident Task Force; Pastor Kenneth Harley, New Smyrna Beach Westside Ministerial Alliance; Steve Harrell, CEO, Bert Fish Hospital; Gerald Monahan, chief of police for City of Port Orange; Khalid Resheidat, assistant city manager; Carol Hargy, director of Human Resources for New Smyrna Beach.

The panel will rank the order candidates for selection by City Manager. The offer of appointment by the city manager aspPolice Chief is subject to approval by the City Commission, Hargy stated in releasing the names of the candidates and the panelists.

Hargy said residents can meet the six top cop finalists at a public reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Dec. 17, at the Southeast Volusia Chamber of Commerce, 115 Canal St.

The finalists will be interviewed by a panel of community and city leaders on Dec. 18-19.

Neither Hargy nor City Manager Pamela Brangaccio explained how the panelists were selected or if the process will be open to the public. An email sent to Brangaccio for clarification went unanswered.

The police force has been embroiled in controversy for more than two years since Headline Surfer® broke the story on 940 missing or stolen items from the NSBPD evidence room that resulted in an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement two-plus years ago, with the police force now under a fourth top cop in the last two years. 

The thefts occurred under the watch of longtime Police Chief Ronald Pagano. He retired in 2012, when his contract was re-written, giving him an additional half year's salary, he wasn't entitled to until his contract was re-negotiated that October.

Then Lt. Michael Brouuillette was preempted to acting police chief and was among six finalists for the job. But it went to George Markert of Upstate New York. Markert abruptly left in October, stating in part in a letter, that it was his “wish to consider exploring other professional opportunities at this time.”

Markert was replaced by Lt. Donna Lavallee, who has been with the police force more than 30 years. LaVallee, named acting chief by Brangaccio has prohibited her from speaking to members of the working press.

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.