12127800075?profile=RESIZE_710xScott McClure is congratulated by Town Clerk Kelly Avery after being sworn in as Ocean Ridge police chief in a ceremony witnessed by his family and chiefs and officers from local communities. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

By Larry Barszewski

In the end, Ocean Ridge Town Manager Lynne Ladner didn’t have to look far to find the town’s next police chief. He was already at work in the job.

Ladner announced the promotion June 15 of acting Police Chief Scott McClure to the permanent position. McClure, who joined the town’s police force in 2016, has been leading the department since March, when former Police Chief Richard Jones resigned to take the same position in Gulf Stream.

McClure, who served for 25 years in the Palm Beach Police Department before coming to Ocean Ridge, has also been a patrol officer, sergeant and lieutenant in town. His appointment as chief was effective June 19 and he was sworn in at a department ceremony June 23, but he did not anticipate that his contract with the town would be finalized before the commission’s July 10 meeting.

“My highest priority is the safety of the residents and the safety of the officers,” McClure said following his promotion. “I want to keep morale high in the department because, as I’ve always said, that extends out into the community.”

He says he’s taking over a department that’s in great shape, with recent additions including a rescue boat, a high-water truck, and approval of a new townwide license plate reader camera system. He already credits use of the current cameras with leading to more arrests and fewer crimes in town.

Jones said McClure will make a fine successor.

“I think Scott is a good fit for the organization,” Jones said. “I think he will continue the success that we’ve started within the Police Department and the progression of bringing things up to the 21st century.”

McClure, who is married and has two adult children, said his contract discussions have not touched upon salary as of June 22. Jones was earning $115,763 annually when he left.

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 Maj. 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.”

Town 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 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.

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Comments

  • Congratulations to our new chief. I will say he has compassion for the residents and his officers. It takes a great leader to handle both! 

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