After 31 years on the force, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan will retire

Brian Dugan describes his four years as the Tampa police chief as the "honor of a lifetime." Friday will be his final day as the city's top cop.

"For 31 years, and the last four of them as your chief of police, I have been proud to serve this city," he said while announcing his retirement back in July. Assistant Chief Ruben Delgado will take on the role as acting chief as the city searches for Dugan's replacement.

Dugan joined the Tampa Police Department back in 1990. He moved up in the ranks before becoming the police chief. 

Back in 2017, then-mayor Bob Buckhorn named him the chief of police for the city. The decision was made as the Seminole Heights neighborhood experienced random killings with no arrests. At the time, Buckhorn said he was impressed with Dugan's way of engaging with the community and straightforward remarks while remaining level-headed during his updates to the public. 

A few weeks after receiving the official title, an arrest was made. It would be the highest-profile challenge his department would face, culminating in the arrest of Howell Trae Donaldson III, who has yet to stand trial.

MORE: From Seminole Heights killings to navigating the pandemic, Chief Dugan will step down after 4 years

Dugan's relationship with the community was tested during civil unrest during the summer last year. Police said it spawned from agitators who stole the spotlight from legitimate protestors during protests of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

"The big challenge departments have now is how do we communicate with our communities?" he told FOX 13. "How do we tell them what we do? Why do we do it? So, we are not over-policing."

During his retirement announcement, Mayor Jane Castor highlighted even more of the major events Dugan had to navigate: Hurricane Irma, a pandemic, and the loss of an officer.

"Any one of those incidents would try the abilities of a chief of police," she said at the time. "I applaud him for the career that he has had. Our entire community owes him a debt of gratitude for the way he has led."

In March, Dugan and the rest of the department mourned the loss of one of their own who was killed in the line of duty. Before Officer Jesse Madsen's death, it had been over 10 years since the last Tampa officer was killed.

As for the next Tampa police chief, Dugan told FOX 13 there is a strong internal candidate. He does not want to weigh in specifically on who he wants the next chief to be, because that decision will be up to the mayor.

His advice:

"I can be a little too candid," Dugan admitted. "I think the next chief is going to have to be a little more politically correct."

"The joke is when you are chief of police, you age in dog years. I can certainly tell you that is accurate," he added. "It just became time. All I ever wanted to do was be a police officer."