'Honor of a lifetime': Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan to retire after 31 years with the agency

After nearly four years that started with the arrest of the Seminole Heights serial killer suspect, Tampa's top cop will retire.

Chief Brian Dugan announced Monday morning his retirement will officially begin September 10. Assistant Chief Ruben Delgado will take on the role of acting chief and the city will begin a search for Dugan's replacement.

"For 31 years, and the last four of them as your chief of police, I have been proud to serve this city," he said Monday. "It’s been an honor of a lifetime."

Dugan started with 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 three random killings and no arrests, and Buckhorn said he was impressed with Dugan's way of staying engaged with the community and remaining level-headed during his updates to the public. A few weeks after receiving the official title, an arrest was made.

When Jane Castor was mayor-elect, she said she wanted to keep Dugan as her chief of police. 

The past year alone for Dugan and the agency has been a challenge. Mayor Jane Castor highlighted some of the major events he had to face and lead the department: Seminole Heights killings, 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. "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."

Earlier this year, he said he tested positive for COVID-19. Dugan is also a cancer survivor. 

In March, Dugan had to mourn 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.

Last summer, Tampa officers responded to peaceful protests in the wake of George Floyd's death that turned into riots by nightfall. In the following month, Dugan said "morale is in the gutter" after the arrest of the officer who was later convicted of Floyd's murder, adding that the agency experience a lot of early retirements.

"I am so proud to wear the uniform of a Tampa police officer," Dugan said during his retirement announcement Monday, adding that he will have more to say in the coming weeks.