Tampa Police Chief’s new contract authorization postponed over technical questions

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — When Tampa City Council Chair Guido Maniscalco tried to postpone authorization for a new contract for Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw during Thursday’s meeting, he was quickly interrupted by council member Bill Carlson.

“This is an issue that people have come from the public to hear about,” Carlson said. “I think the public deserves to have a minute to talk about it.”

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When Bercaw enrolled in the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) in 2019, he picked his retirement date as Sept. 22, 2024. But the city wants to hire him as a contractor after that and continue as police chief.

The proposed agreement would allow him to receive a $96,000 annual pension on top of a $241,000 salary — a more than $36,000 pay raise over his current salary. He would also receive benefits like vacation, sick pay and health insurance.

The agreement states the city would not keep contributing to Bercaw’s pension. He could also get pay bumps for performance reviews and cost-of-living increases. City officials said the agreement was approved Thursday by Mayor Jane Castor.

Council member Carlson made a motion to speak about the proposed contract, but no one seconded it. He spoke anyway.

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“I’m going to talk about it eventually,” Carlson said. “Just because the administration doesn’t want me to talk about it doesn’t mean that I’m not going to talk about it.”

Carlson said the chief has been dragged through the mud on social media recently over the contract, and blamed the administration for blinding city council.

“This process was badly conceived by the administration,” Carlson continued. “I hope that next time, the administration has more transparency and includes the public and I hope they focus on collaboration rather than hiding things.”

City officials said the authorization was postponed because of technical questions about the contract.

“They want more time to discuss it,” said council member Charlie Miranda. “To have more transparency so the public can understand exactly what’s going on. This is a very important issue.”

8 On Your Side attempted to speak with Chief Bercaw after the meeting, but his office refused, saying the issue was postponed and that’s all they had to say. It’s unclear if the contract will change due to the postponement.

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