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Thursday, July 07, 2022

GPD Chief Botsford retires after 10 years of service

The retirement of Gainesville Police Chief Norman Botsford was announced Thursday night at the Gainesville City Commission meeting.

After 10 years as Chief of GPD, Botsford turned in his notice of intent to retire late Wednesday night.

"During the past four years, I have had the opportunity to work closely with Chief Norman Botsford and know him to be a extremely capable police chief," City Manager Russ Blackburn told the commissioners.

Botsford will continue his duties while Blackburn conducts a four-month nationwide search for a new chief.

"He is held in high regard by his peers and recognized statewide as a leader in local government," Blackburn said.

Blackburn added that he wanted to thank Botsford for his years of service.

Sworn in as Gainesville Police Chief on Nov. 1, 1999, Botsford created or expanded on 14 programs to reduce Gainesville crime.

After seeing a rise in violent crime, Botsford created the Tactical Impact Unit to combat violent crime and drug dealing.

The unit, which specializes in patrolling Gainesville's high-crime areas, may have helped cut violent crime down by 7 percent in 2008.

"When it comes to innovations, one of the many things Chief Botsford did for the department was take us out of the dark ages with technology," GPD spokesman Keith Kameg said.

Kameg said the officers went from hand writing police reports and having poor intelligence distribution to going paperless and receiving up-to-the-second updates through their laptop computers.

Botsford also helped expand the department's facilities.

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"For the last 40 years, we were crammed into a small building," Kameg said.

Botsford has helped make plans that include a community center, a training center and renovations to the original building located on NW Sixth St., he said.

"He was able to look long term, which is very important at our agency," Kameg said.

During Botsford's tenure as Chief, he faced challenges.

Over the past year, five officers left the department after breaking the rules and several others have received warnings, Kameg said.

Two officers were forced to leave GPD after an internal investigation found that they were having sex with prostitutes while on duty. One officer is currently under an internal investigation for a DUI arrest that was thrown out by the State Attorney's office.

Three GPD officers were reported in the media last week for driving through Porters Community in Southwest Gainesville near Depot Avenue, with intent to harass prostitutes and drug dealers.

"No one is proud of the behaviors of or personnel in the recent days," Kameg said.

Despite the circumstances surrounding his departure, Botsford has considered retiring for some time.

After being in the business for 40 years, Kameg said, if anyone deserves a break from law enforcement, it's Botsford.

"Will he be missed? Absolutely," Kameg said.

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