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Déjà vu for Palmetto’s newest police chief

Morale was low at the city police department.

Leadership was needed.

A new chief was hired from the outside to rectify the situation.

Palmetto Police Chief Rick Wells?

Maybe.

He was sworn in just last Monday, so give him time.

We’re actually referring to someone else.

His father.

Before Charlie Wells embarked on his 22-year run as Manatee County sheriff, he was police chief for the city of Bradenton.

It was January 1980 when Wells, a Florida Highway Patrol veteran, took over. And during his 33-month tenure, he established order and stability in the department.

Will his son have the same impact in Palmetto?

If past is prologue.

Rick Wells has worn a badge and a gun for 26 years, including tours of duty with both the FHP and MCSO.

There has long been speculation he, too, would be Manatee’s sheriff one day.

It’s Wells’ ambition.

Being Charlie Wells’ son doesn’t hurt, either.

His dad may have retired as a public figure in 2007, but the ol’ man’s still got plenty of juice.

Regardless, although Rick Wells has served in various capacities as a lieutenant with the MCSO, he still needs the experience of running his own department.

Garry Lowe’s retirement — resignation? — as Palmetto’s police chief presents that opportunity.

Lowe devoted 29 years of his life to the department, which became accredited under his aegis.

He was a presence in the community.

Yet the department’s failure to solve seven murder cases since 2002 reflects on Lowe’s leadership.

His inability to keep current on paying property taxes on properties he and his wife own doesn’t look good, either.

Sure, it’s a problem for a lot of people who own rental properties, especially these days.

But they’re not the police chief of Palmetto.

Rick Wells wears that title now.

May he make the same kind of difference his father made as Bradenton’s police chief 30 years ago.

Palmetto’s citizens deserve no less.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at vmannix@bradenton.com. Please include a phone number for verification purposes.

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