Lantana: Process for replacing police chief discussed

By Margie Plunkett

A plan that would allow Lantana Police Chief Rick Lincoln to retire early received preliminary approval from the Town Council, a move that could shuffle
Police Department leadership to the tune of a $125,000 savings.

The ordinance adopted on first reading May 25 would allow police personnel who are at least 50 years old with 9.5 years on the Lantana police force to retire
early, and would allow Lincoln to retire in September rather than in April 2011
as planned. Chief Lincoln, 59,
expects to take the early retirement if the ordinance passes on second reading,
he said in a later interview.

The savings will depend on who is tapped to replace Lincoln, with the $125,000 scenario based on promoting one of the department’s two captains to chief
without filling the remaining vacancy.

While all council members favored the early retirement and resulting budget consequences, the ordinance generated discussion on how a new chief would be selected,
with many appearing to support considering inside and outside candidates.

“You have an impressive employment record,” council member Cindy Austino told Lincoln at the May 25 meeting. “You go back a long way and have a lot of
experience under your belt,” she said. She was concerned there wouldn’t be
enough time to replace the chief “to get the best possible choice for the

Mayor David Stewart said, “I’m in favor of this early retirement, but I would like you to look and see which candidate is best to replace our chief. I would like
to see it be an open process, so they can get on board whoever it might be.”

“Chief Lincoln, we appreciate all you’ve done for the town to bring the police force up to its present situation,” council member Elizabeth Tennyson said. “Ten
years ago, when we were looking for a chief, we were fortunate to find Rick
Lincoln, an unusually qualified chief for a town of our size.” Tennyson,
however, wanted to open the competition to the outside, even if it did result
in hiring from within.

But not everyone championed going outside the department. Dr. Lynn Moorhouse favored backing Lincoln in his confidence in the ability of either captain to succeed him.

The chief urged council members to consider the captains for the post.

Lantana’s Police Department doesn’t have the same needs it did 10 years ago, when “it badly needed an outside set of eyes,” Lincoln said. The two internal candidates
have both been preparing as part of succession planning for the possibility of
someday filling the chief’s role, he said. Both went back to college and have
wide experience in the town, he said, adding, “You’d be wise to consider this.”

Lincoln said in the later interview that after his retirement, “I probably would do nothing at all” initially, taking time with his wife, Lynda, at their North
Carolina home.

When asked what he felt his greatest accomplishments were as chief of the 30-officer department, the chief said, “The organization itself and the law enforcement
community see this as a more professional organization than before I got here.”
The department received its original accreditation and two re-accreditations
during his tenure, Lincoln said.

Lincoln has been in Palm Beach County law enforcement for more than 30 years. Prior to his experience with the Lantana police force, he was director of law
enforcement for the Palm Beach County’s Sheriff Office, before which he had
retired from the Delray Beach Police Department as assistant chief of police.

Lincoln has a bachelor’s degree in English from Assumption College in Massachusetts and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Senior Management Institute for
Police and the Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute “chief executive
seminar.” He is the current president of the Palm Beach County Association of
Chiefs of Police.

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