Pensacola Chief of Police Chip Simmons plans to retire in August after 29 years of service with the Pensacola Police Department.
Simmons joined the Pensacola Police Department in 1986. He was promoted to sergeant in 1995, lieutenant in 1998, captain in 2002, and assistant chief in January 2005, before being appointed as Chief of Police in June 2010. During his time with the department, Simmons has been assigned to Uniform Patrol, Vice & Narcotics, and Investigations, and has served as a SWAT commander, field training officer, and media spokesman. In addition to the Mayor’s Leadership Award, Simmons has received several departmental awards in recognition of his service to the community, including a Bronze Cross and the Gold Medal of Valor, which is the department’s highest award for heroism. He has served on the Statewide Terrorist Network Group, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, U.S. Customs Blue Lightning Strike Force, and was integral in establishing the Gun Crime Response Team with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and other regional law enforcement partners.
“Chip shares my belief that public safety is the single most important responsibility of any city government,” said Mayor Ashton Hayward. “His community-oriented and results-centric approach has made him an invaluable partner in our effort to keep our neighborhoods and citizens safe. Chip and I have a very active partnership, and I’m proud of the results we’ve been able to deliver through that close collaboration and teamwork.”
As Chief, Simmons has delivered significant reductions in crime year-over-year, resulting in the lowest crime rate on record. He also initiated the two-year effort which culminated last year with accreditation by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, a highly-prized recognition of law enforcement professional excellence. Earlier this year, the Pensacola Police Department became the first department in the region to deploy body cameras. Simmons credits the gains to the hard work of the department’s officers and his strong working relationship with Mayor Ashton Hayward.
“I am extremely proud of the work we have done in my time as Chief,” said Simmons. “Thanks to the hard work of our officers and the leadership of Mayor Hayward, we have been able to make tremendous progress in reducing crime, realizing an 8% reduction last year on top of the double-digit reduction we achieved in 2013. I want to thank Mayor Hayward for his friendship as well as his constant support and advocacy, which has been a critical factor in the progress we’ve been able to make. It has been an incredible honor to serve the citizens of Pensacola as their Chief of Police.”
Hayward also announced today that he will nominate David Alexander III to serve as Pensacola’s next Chief of Police. As a department head, Alexander’s appointment is subject to the approval of the City Council. Alexander will become the first African-American Chief of Police in the 194-year history of the Pensacola Police Department.
Alexander began as a cadet with the Pensacola Police Department in 1983, and has served as Assistant Chief since September 2014. Alexander holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice as well as a master’s degree in human resources management from Troy State University. Alexander is deeply involved in the community, serving as an assistant pastor and youth leader at Jesus Holy Tabernacle Church and volunteering his time with Northwest Florida Congregations in Action, Northwest Florida Prevention Coalition, and the JHT (Justice, Hope and Training) Safe Haven Development Center.
Captain Tommi Lyter will also be promoted to Assistant Chief. Captain Lyter was hired as a police officer in August 1990. Lyter received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in public administration from Troy State University. Lyter is on the board of directors for the Community Drug and Alcohol Coalition, volunteers with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and works closely with neighborhood associations and Crime Watch groups. Both Alexander and Lyter are graduates of the FBI National Academy program in Quantico, VA.
“As I’ve said many times, I believe that Pensacola is blessed to have one of the finest police forces not just in the region, but in the nation,” said Hayward. “David Alexander and Tommi Lyter are both men of tremendous experience and professionalism who are well-respected in our community and well-suited to continue the great work our Police Department has done under Chief Simmons. Together, we will continue to provide the safe neighborhoods and first class service our citizens expect and deserve.”