After almost three decades serving the City of Mount Dora, Police Chief Robert Bell made his retirement plans official today.
“Mount Dora Police Chief Robert Bell, who notified me on July 1 of his plans to retire, this week confirmed his official retirement date of August 7, 2020’,” stated CIty Manager Robin Hayes. “His retirement follows 27 years of service to the city and its residents as a Police Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Deputy Chief, and for the last year as Chief of Police.”
During his years of service, Bell built strong relationships throughout the community with his priority of community policy. His long-standing personal involvement in the City’s Northeast community made Bell a trusted public servant among that historic neighborhood’s civic leaders.
In his retirement letter dated July 1, Bell strongly encouraged the City Manager to continue to place special emphasis on Mount Dora’s downtown which is its economic engine, as well as the Northeast community.
“The Northeast is a historic part of Mount Dora comprised of many wonderful families with history and roots that go back to Mount Dora‘s beginnings. The people living in that area love Mount Dora and want to be an integral part of its future.” wrote Bell in a thoughtful resignation letter.
Mount Dora Police Department (MDPD) has suffered from internal strife before and after its former Police Chief John O’Grady was suspended and eventually terminated in 2019. The investigation into O’Grady exposed a fractured and polarized department resulting in multiple lawsuits on all sides and Bell is not without critics inside the agency.
Bell announced his retirement to Mount Dora City Council today during a scheduled work session and introduced them to MDPD's new Acting ChiefBrett Meade, an accomplished law enforcement professional with more than 38 years in law enforcement, including 25 years with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Meade is recognized across the country as a senior program manager with the National Police Foundation, and as a leader in operational and policy development and implementation. The new Acting Chief's experience is complemented by his education which include a doctorate in education in Organizational Leadership, a master’s degree in Public Administration, and a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration.
Bell’s retirement is the second big change at MDPD within a week. On July 21, Assistant Police Chief Michael Fewless, who joined MDPD in 2019, was terminated by Human Resources Director Sharon Kraynik for violating the City's media policy.
Meade will begin work immediately on an entire review of the Police Department. Over the past month, issues of concern, including questions about both personnel and policies, have been raised by members of the Mount Dora Police Department. The new Acting Chief’s prior experience in this type of review, played a significant role in the decision to name him as acting chief, according to Hayes.
Bell concluded his resignation letter to Hayes by stating “...the support that I have received from you and our City Council, over the last year, has been exceptional. I am most appreciative of all you have done to help us be successful. Thank you for your leadership, your guidance, and your friendship. I look forward to continuing that friendship into the future.”
“We are proud to be the nation’s first accredited police department and MDPD is committed to professional operations and treating all officers, staff, and residents with respect.” said Hayes. “That same commitment by leadership and staff also includes following procedures to ensure the best possible services are provided to the community.” For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, click here. For local things to do, click here and for the area's free mobile app, click here.