Chief Lee Bercaw has promoted 46 members of the Tampa Police Department into new supervisory roles, while also finalizing his executive staff.
“Those selected for promotion are the future of the Tampa Police Department who have already proven their commitment to quality community service and public safety,” said Chief Bercaw. “I look forward to seeing them take on their new assignments and bring forth innovative ideas related to crime prevention and community engagement. I know they will all continue to work passionately in developing the future generation of public servants and further building on the community relationships that help Tampa to remain recognized as one of the safest cities in the nation.”
Chief Bercaw has also created the new assignment of Deputy Chief of Community Outreach and Professional Standards to directly oversee the department’s commitment to working in partnership with the residents we serve, in a manner that demonstrates without a doubt that every action by a member of the department is in keeping with the highest standards of public service.
Deputy Chief Calvin Johnson will move into this role, providing direct guidance to the Professional Standards Bureau, Criminal Intelligence Bureau, Communications Bureau, and departmental Community Outreach efforts.
- Deputy Chief Michael Hutner will remain over Operations.
- Brett Owen will remain Major of District Two.
- Eric DeFelice will remain Major of District Three.
- Rich Mills will now be Major of the Special Operations Division.
A formal promotion ceremony will be held on September 22, 2023.
THOSE PROMOTED ARE AS FOLLOWS:
RUTH CATE – DEPUTY CHIEF OF INVESTIGATIONS AND SUPPORT
Deputy Chief Ruth Cate has been employed with the Tampa Police Department since 1996. Her most recent role was serving as the Major of District One, which serves Tampa's peninsula, west side, and Davis Islands areas. Her desire for a future profession in law enforcement was evident when she spent her teens as a police explorer with Temple Terrace Police Department.
During her career, Deputy Chief Cate has worked a variety of assignments, including time as a patrol officer in Districts One and Three, a School Resource Officer, and Quick Uniform Attack on Drugs (QUAD) Officer in the Tactical Division. In June 2003, she was promoted to the rank of detective and assigned to the Narcotics Bureau where she sat 2nd chair in two federal jury trials. A result of her investigations led to the largest cocaine seizure to date by a female Tampa Police detective. As a detective, she also served on the Sex Crimes/Child Abuse squad and in the Internal Affairs Bureau.
In September 2012, she was promoted to the rank of sergeant, her assignments included patrol sergeant in District One and the Sex Crimes/Child Abuse sergeant in the Major Crimes Bureau. As the sex crimes sergeant, she was instrumental in implementing the first ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) task force at the Tampa Police Department and she also co-authored an agreement between the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and the Tampa Police Department, which mandated a Victim's Advocate be permanently assigned to the Tampa Police Department. In June 2015 she was promoted to the rank of lieutenant where she served as the shift commander in Districts One and Two.
In the past, Deputy Chief Cate was a DEFY mentor and a member of the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team. Deputy Chief Cate has been an active member of the Tampa Police Memorial Committee since 1999, where she currently serves as the President and was the Scholarship Chairperson for 10 years, overseeing the distribution of more than $100,000 in scholarships to the children of Tampa Police Department employees. Deputy Chief Cate is concurrently assigned as the incident commander for the Amalie Arena and successfully planned and staffed law enforcement operations for two back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships.
Deputy Chief Cate is the highest-ranking Asian-American Officer to ever serve the Tampa Police Department. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology from Florida State University and is currently working toward her master’s degree in criminal justice from National University.
ALEX THIEL – MAJOR, DISTRICT ONE DIVISION (South and West Tampa)
Major Alex Thiel is a true public servant and a second-generation Tampa Police Officer who has dedicated his adult life to keeping others safe.
Major Thiel was sworn in as a Tampa Police officer in 2005. During his tenure, he has served in all three patrol districts and the Special Operations Division. As the lead driving instructor for the department, Major Thiel educated police officers on best practices needed for the safe, tactical driving of police vehicles. He is also an elected Trustee with the Tampa Fire and Police Pension Fund.
Ensuring effective interoperability between law enforcement agencies during large-scale events, Major Thiel took a lead role in training members of the Tampa Police Department and assisting agencies in preparation for the Republican National Convention hosted in Tampa in 2012. Major Thiel also represented the department as a member of the Tampa Police Honor Guard and served as the Assistant Team Commander for the Crowd Management Group for several years.
Prior to protecting and serving those in the City of Tampa, Major Thiel protected our nation, serving four years of active duty as a United States Marine.
Major Thiel continued his education while serving the community as a Tampa Police Officer. He holds a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of South Florida. He was inducted onto the USF Department of Criminology Wall of Fame, which recognizes select alumni who have attained “the highest level of professional accomplishment while demonstrating strong personal integrity.”
Major Thiel is married to retired Tampa Police Detective Katie Thiel. They have two children. Major Thiel puts his faith in God and gives thanks to his wife and family for the sacrifices and support they have provided him throughout his career.
PATRICK MESSMER – MAJOR, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION
Major Patrick Messmer was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. He moved to Tampa, taking the oath of a Tampa Police Officer in 2005. During his tenure, Major Messmer has worked in numerous positions throughout the department, including all three patrol districts, the Criminal Investigations Division, and supervision of the Field Training and Evaluation Program. He is recognized as Traffic Crash Reconstructionist Expert by the Hillsborough County Courts and used his skill in this specialized field to modernize equipment and processes used by the Traffic Homicide Unit.
As a supervisor, Major Messmer has managed teams of detectives in addressing concerns of the community, from violent crime patterns to administrative investigations. He was a branch director during Super Bowl LV, helping to plan and lead personnel in handling security issues related to a large-scale event.
He is skilled in identifying areas where policies and processes can be improved to better serve the community. In his most recent assignment as Captain of the Professional Standards Bureau, he was responsible for the review of departmental policies and procedures, ensuring all personnel understood and adhered to directives. He also coordinated with the Citizen’s Review Board (CRB), assisting in their training, providing them with investigatory findings they could review in a manner that was readily understood, and acting as a direct liaison between the department and the board.
Major Messmer is a twice-honored recipient of the Award of Merit. He first received this award for his work in upgrading training materials used in the Field Training and Evaluation Program to a web-based platform, improving the ease and efficiency of documentation. He was awarded again when he developed successful solutions to addressing retail crimes negatively impacting the community, resulting in the building of strong relationships with local businesses operating in the City of Tampa.
Major Messmer holds a Bachelor of Science in Police Administration from Eastern Kentucky University, a Master of Arts in Public Administration from the University of Central Florida, and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, Session #287. He is also a licensed pilot and avid scuba diver.
KIMBERLY FRUIT – MAJOR, SUPPORT SERVICES DIVISION
Major Kimberly Fruit began her career with Tampa Police in 2006 as a police cadet selected for the Tampa Police Recruit Scholarship Program. During her tenure, Major Fruit has worked in a variety of assignments to include an officer on the Rapid Offender Control Squad, the Training Unit, Patrol Sergeant, and the Sergeant of Personnel & Training. Her skill and expertise also led her to become a Firearms and Defensive Tactics Instructor for the department.
In her most recent role as Captain of the Support Services Bureau, she oversaw all recruiting, hiring, and retention efforts being conducted by the Tampa Police Department. She also provided supervision of the Records Units along with Extra Duty, Fleet Maintenance, and the Supply Section.
A dedicated public servant, Major Fruit has also provided help to those in need outside the City of Tampa limits. In 2017, she deployed to Collier County to help their community recover from the devastation of Hurricane Irma. Again, in 2019, she traveled to the Florida panhandle in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, as part of a multi-agency response team.
Major Fruit serves on the City of Tampa Human Rights Board and is also an active board member for the Hillsborough House of Hope, a non-profit program that assists women who were previously incarcerated transition to a positive life outside of prison.
Major Fruit holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology from the University of South Florida. She is married with one daughter.
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