News-Journal allows itself to be conduit for promotion of Capri as successor to Chitwood as Daytona chief of police amid a murder no less

Craig Capri promoted / Headline SurferDBPD Deputy Chief Craig Capri promoted in the Daytona Beach News-Journal / Headline SurferPhotos for Headline Surfer / Above, cops respond to a gun battle at Fourth Street and Lewis Drive in the vicinity of Derbyshire Park and find a 24-year-old man dead in a car Tuesday night from at least one gunshot wound. This sets the stage for Deputy Police Chief Craig Capri to appear on video camera with the News-Journal in a concerted effort to see to it that he becomes Sheriff-elect Mike Chitwood's permanent successor as police chief in 2017. It was the second time this week that Capri has been the center of attention by the daily newspaper of record for Volusia and Flagler counties.

By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- It has become all too obvious that the Daytona Beach News-Journal is allowing itself to be used as a conduit for the promotion of Craig Capri as Sheriff-elect Mike Chitwood's successor for police chief during a murder no less.

The most recent example of this was Tuesday night when Capri, the 25-year veteran of the DBPD and  deputy chief was on camera yet again as a "talking press release" in a News-Journal video as cops responded to area of Fourth Street and Lewis Drive, where they found 24-year-old Bashawn Johnson riddled with bullets and dead inside a car. The shooter, of course got away. But Capri shamefully used the opportunity to be seen and heard for News-Journal readers online. 

It would be one thing if Chitwood were on leave or vacation, but he too, was part of the news cycle, telling WFTV Channel 9 it was a miracle nobody was killed, amid reports a high-powered weapon may have been used in a gun battle between at least two men based on numerous bullet casings at the scene along with Johnson's body inside a car covered in blood.

 "Any kid could have been outside sitting on the front porch of their house and you have high-powered weapons fired into the neighborhood," Chitwood said. "We cannot allow violence like this to occur on our streets."

Though cops were interviewing potential witnesses at the scene of the 9:12 p.m. gun battle in the vicinity of 1017 Lewis Drive, which is a couple of blocks from Derbyshire Park where older kids hang out at night, they had no suspect or leads as to why the shooting took place to begin with.

And Capri was far less colorful and dramatic than Chitwood in reacting to the fatal shooting, but nonetheless, he got face time.

"We heard there was some kind of gunfire here exchanged out in front of the house," Capri told the News-Journal in a 20-second interview in which he gave a robotic-sounding press release statement. But it was good enough to in a continuing concerted effort to see to it that he succeeds Chitwood as police chief even as elected officials have talked of wanting to conduct a national search.

Chitwood has not been bashful about wanting Capri as his successor while some city commissioners say a national search should be conducted to find Daytona Beach's next top cop. In fact, only Chitwood has publicly stated Capri will succeed him, even on an interim basis. The final decision rests with City Manager Jim Chisholm who has been silent on the matter.

Daytona Beach is well on its way to a second year in a row of double-digit homicides under Chitwood's watch as he closes in on his 11th year as chief of police. Daytona Beach is among the most violent in Florida and the nation, but that didn't stop Chitwood from winning the Aug. 30 primary for Sheriff outright over four other candidates with more than 50 percent of the vote, after Ben Johnson announced this would be his last year as sheriff after 16 years on the job.

Chitwood romps / Headline SurferDaytona Beach is well on its way to a second year in a row of double-digit homicides under Mike Chitwood's watch as he closes in on his 11th year as chief of police.

Daytona Beach is among the most violent in Florida and the nation, but that didn't stop Chitwood from winning the Aug. 30 primary for Sheriff outright over four other candidates with more than 50 percent of the vote, after Ben Johnson announced this would be his last year as sheriff after 16 years on the job.

 

The push for Capri began in earnest in a Sept 10 News-Journal story headlined, "Life after Chitwood: Daytona police chief search coming soon."

Chitwood has told the city manager his recommendation is to elevate Deputy Chief Craig Capri to chief, according to the story, in which the police chief is quoted as saying, "I believe Craig Capri could be a police chief anywhere. I think he's the logical successor, and he's ready to move up."

According to the News-Journal, Chitwood's vote is for Capri to get a six-month trial as his interim replacement.

"Before we do anything, I hope we'll look inside the organization," Chitwood told the newspaper. "If the city manager and commission are happy with the direction (of the department) and want to keep the momentum, they should look within."

But even those quoted in the story say there's only one Chitwood and he's leaving.

Regardless, Capri remains as steadfast as Chitwood in his own elevation to top cop.

Here is a passage to that effect in the News-Journal:

Capri said Chitwood is a visionary on crime fighting philosophy, community engagement and cutting edge technology for police. Capri said it's all helped him think outside the box, use body cameras and the real time crime center years before other departments, learn de-escalation techniques and get involved with things like coaching kids in the Police Athletic League program and attending community meetings. If offered the chance to take command of the 232-officer force, Capri said his answer will be yes.
 

"If they want me, they got me," Capri told the News-Journal. "My mindset is every day I'll give 150 percent. I'm prepared and ready."

While most of the elected leaders, including Mayor Derrick Henry said they are open to Capri succeeding Chitwood while recognizing Chisholm has the final say, only Commissioner Rob Gilliland was emphatic about Capri becoming the next permanent chief of police.

"I'm a big fan of institutional knowledge, and I think the deputy chief (Capri) is the preferred candidate in my mind," Gilliland was quoted as saying in the News-Journal article. "He's tough but fair, and he's known in the community. He's been part of the things that have been successful. He's respected within the department."

Chitwood told the News-Journal in the Sept. 10 story that soon after Biketoberfest, he was planning to take some time off or even step down altogether in preparing for the transition to sheriff. Biketoberfest, the three-day motorcycle rally,  ended Sunday and so far the only thing Chitwood has done is announce his transition team as sheriff-elect, exclusively in the News-Journal on Monday.

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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 HeadlineSurfer.com 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 narly eveenly 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 Wst Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.