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Major Reorganization at the
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Colonel Chris Knight
Florida Highway Patrol

For Release June 13, 2003:

TALLAHASSEE: Colonel Chris Knight, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), today announced several key promotions within the FHP that will begin a major reorganization process. The reorganization serves to streamline the command structure of the FHP by eliminating an entire level of management and ultimately grouping similar functions into one command. The reorganization of the Patrol calls for the elimination of the entire rank of Bureau Chief (8 positions), with four being eliminated on June 30, 2003, including three (3) Chiefs of Field Operations and one (1) Chief of Investigations. The remaining four positions will be downgraded through attrition. The overall goal of the reorganization is to identify and downgrade supervisory positions deemed unnecessary or excessive, and to place more troopers on the road to provide direct service to Floridaís motoring public.

The Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) has afforded the FHP, Floridaís largest state law enforcement agency, with a unique opportunity to reshape the 64-year old organization. Because of DROP, the FHP will lose 71 officers on June 30, 2003, including many senior level law enforcement managers. The initial phase of the Patrolís reorganization includes the following promotions:

Chief John Czernis, a 26-year veteran of the FHP, is promoted to Lt. Colonel, Deputy Director of Special Operations Command, effective June 16, 2003. Lt. Colonel Czernis will be responsible for Training, Accreditation, Fleet and Property, Promotional Examinations, Personnel, Recruitment, Background Investigations, Polygraph, Budget, and Program Planning.

John has been a member of the FHP since February 1977 and has served as the Patrolís Chief Investigator since May 1998. He served as the Chief of Training from November 1996 through May of 1998, and was the Major over Grants, Accreditation and Policy Administration from November 1994 to November 1996. John earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida in 1981. He is currently enrolled in the Master of Public Administration Program at FSU. He has also attended the Administrative Officers Management Program in Raleigh, N.C., Class #12.

Chief Rick S. Gregory, a 19-year veteran of the FHP, is promoted to Lt. Colonel, Deputy Director of Field Operations, South and East Command, effective June 16, 2003. Lt. Colonel Gregory will be responsible for direct oversight of all field operations activities in Troops D-Orlando, E-Miami, G-Jacksonville, K-Florida Turnpike, and L-Lantana.

Rick began his career in Fernandina Beach in July of 1984. He was promoted to Sergeant in February 1990, and was reassigned to Naples until his promotion to Lieutenant, Public Information Officer, and transfer to Palatka in August 1993. In 1985, Rick was promoted to Captain, Assistant Chief Training Officer, and assigned to the FHP Training Academy in Tallahassee. In November 1997, he was promoted to Major and reassigned as Commander of Troop D-Orlando. Since February 2002, he has served as the Chief of Field Operations, Region III, which includes oversight of Troops E-Miami, L-Lantana, and K-Florida Turnpike. Rick earned a Bachelor of Professional Administration degree from Barry University; and completed the Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute's Senior Leadership Program, Class #5.

Chief Ken Howes, a 27-year veteran of the FHP, is promoted to Lt. Colonel, Deputy Director of Law Enforcement Support Services, effective June 16, 2003. Lt. Colonel Howes will be responsible for Staff Inspections, Driver License Fraud/Identity Theft, Public Affairs, Lt. Governor Security, Aviation, Regional Communications Centers, Traffic Homicide, FHP Auxiliary/Reserve, Contraband Interdiction, Technology/Communications, and Emergency Operations Center/Homeland Security.

Ken began his career in Melbourne in 1976, where he remained until his promotion to Corporal and transfer to Ft. Pierce in 1984. He was reassigned as Sergeant to Troop G-Palatka in 1986, and was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant, Public Information Officer, in 1988. In June 1993, Ken was promoted to Captain and reassigned to General Headquarters as the Patrolís Chief Spokesman. He was promoted to Major in January 1996, and Chief of Public Affairs in March 2001. Ken has served as the Florida Highway Patrolís Chief Spokesman for the last ten years. He earned a Bachelor of Public Administration degree from Barry University in 1999; he also completed the Departmentís Management Fellows Program in 1990, as well as the Chief Executive Seminar at FDLEís Criminal Justice Executive Institute in April 2002.

Lt. Colonel Larry Austin, the Patrolís current Deputy Director of Field Operations since October 2001, is being reassigned to Deputy Director of Field Operations - North and West, effective June 16, 2003. Lt. Colonel Austin will be responsible for direct oversight of all field operations activities in Troops A-Panama City, B-Lake City, C-Tampa, F-Bradenton, and H-Tallahassee.

Chief Jim Howell, the Patrolís current Chief of Field Operations, Region I, is reassigned to Chief of Public Affairs, Law Enforcement Support Services Command. Chief Howell is replacing Chief Ken Howes as the Patrolís Chief Spokesman, effective July 1, 2003. Jim will be responsible for statewide media relations, traffic safety education, public relations, recruitment, and correspondence control and review for the FHP.

Captain Leroy Smith, Gainesville District Commander, Troop B, is promoted to Major and reassigned to General Headquarters, Law Enforcement Support Services Command, effective July 1, 2003. Major Smith will be responsible for the State Emergency Operations Center and Homeland Security issues.

Leroy is a 14-year veteran of the FHP. He began his career in Troop F-Sarasota. He was promoted to Traffic Homicide Investigator in April 1991 and transferred to Miami, Troop E, where he was subsequently promoted to Sergeant in November 1993, and Lieutenant in March 1996. In July 1998, he was promoted to Captain and transferred to Troop B-Gainesville. Major Smith earned a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Leo College in December 2001.

 


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