Bailey Replaced As FDLE Commissioner
By Zach Clark // December 17, 2014
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday replaced longtime Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey with the head of the Capitol Police.
No explanation was immediately given for the change by the governor’s office or the FDLE.
The governor’s office issued a release in which Scott announced the appointment of Rick Swearingen as the interim commissioner. The release briefly thanked Bailey for his service.
Bailey was appointed commissioner by former Gov. Jeb Bush and the state Cabinet on Dec. 5, 2006.
The change came as Scott revamps his leadership team in preparation for the Jan. 6 start of his second term.Also Tuesday, Scott appointed Chad Poppell, chief of staff for the state Department of Economic Opportunity, as the new secretary of the Florida Department of Management Services.
Like with the FDLE change, the governor’s office gave no explanation for Poppell’s replacement of outgoing Secretary Craig Nichols.
Bailey, once a North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper, served with the FDLE as deputy executive director, director of the Division of Criminal Investigation, inspector general, chief of crime laboratories and a special agent before taking the helm of the agency, which employs about 1,700 people with an annual budget topping $300 million.
Swearingen, who has been the director of the Capitol Police since June 2013, has been with the FDLE since 1984. He previously served as assistant special agent in charge and special agent supervisor.
“I look forward to working with Rick and the entire department as we continue to keep our crime rate at a 43-year low,” Scott said in the release.
Swearingen’s appointment is subject to approval by the Cabinet.
At a Cabinet meeting last Tuesday, no mention was made about Bailey leaving the job as he addressed Scott and Cabinet members.
After Bailey’s presentation, Attorney General Pam Bondi praised the FDLE for reducing its response time regarding retail theft.
However, state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said he was concerned with the “turnaround” time of investigations going through the FDLE’s crime lab and noted that employees in the lab are paid less than their counterparts at other agencies.
Bailey told Scott and the Cabinet that the state agency’s lab is seen as a “training ground” and faces “tremendous turnover problems.”