By Larry Barszewski
Ocean Ridge Town Manager Lynne Ladner announced the promotion Thursday of Scott McClure to be the town’s new police chief.
McClure, who joined the town’s police force in 2016, has been serving as acting police chief since March, when former Police Chief Richard Jones resigned to take the same position in Gulf Stream. McClure has also been a patrol officer, sergeant and lieutenant in the town.
Ladner’s decision echoed the recommendation she received June 7 from a committee of mostly law enforcement officials that interviewed the finalists.
“We spoke and unanimously we felt, we feel that the right choice – and obviously it’s your decision – would be your current interim chief, Michael Scott McClure,” Tequesta Police Chief Gus Medina told Ladner following the committee interviews. The other members of the committee were Highland Beach Police Major Michael Oh, Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office Lt. Ryan Mugridge and Jupiter Inlet Colony Town Administrator Kevin Lucas.
“You could tell he’s in tune with what the community needs. I could tell by the presence of the officers here that the officers truly support him and believe in him,” Medina added. “Obviously, he knew the most about the town, which is important to me.”
City officials and residents who attended the meeting were also supportive of McClure.
“This is the first time this town has ever done something like this,” Mayor Geoff Pugh said of the public police chief interviews. It “shows that our town government is open and is something that the town residents can be involved in. So, this selection process is a big turning point for this town.”
Pugh hopes things will begin to settle down in town. Besides the former chief's resignation, two commissioners resigned their seats in April.
“I think one of the main important factors is the temperament of the person who’s actually holding that position,” Pugh said. “That temperament and that willingness to basically try to keep everything calm is so important because we’ve been through uncalm times here in Ocean Ridge.”
The promotion takes effect June 19.
The other finalists interviewed by the committee were: John Donadio, former police chief of Sewall’s Point; Eric Herold, a supervisory federal air marshal; Albert Iovino, a captain with the Indian River Shores Department of Public Safety; and Tom Levins, interim commander with the Clewiston Police Department. Another candidate, Ja’vion Brown Sr., deputy sheriff with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, withdrew from consideration before the candidate interviews.
“Thank you, guys, for reassuring us that we had the best right here already,” resident Debbie Cooke told the interview committee.
Resident Albert Naar noted that McClure’s father retired as assistant police chief in West Palm Beach and his mother served with the FBI and later the U.S. Secret Service.
“He has blue blood in his veins,” Naar said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified speaker Debbie Cooke.