ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced Deputy Chief Eric Smith is set to take over the leadership of the city’s police department following the announcement of Chief Orlando Rolón’s retirement after serving three years in the position.
Dyer announced Smith’s new position as the department’s 40th police chief on Monday at Orlando police headquarters.
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”As mayor, it’s been my priority for our departments to develop strong succession plans that identify and train our future leaders and Chief Smith is an example of that,” Dyer said at the ceremony. “Chief Smith has grown through the ranks of OPD the last 27 years, working in nearly every aspect of the department, including three of the four department bureaus and 10 of the departments’ 11 divisions.”
The 33-year Orlando resident and University of Central Florida graduate has also served as OPD’s high risk incident commander since 2016, leading SWAT, crisis negotiations and emergency response services for the crisis intervention team. He currently serves as commander of the Patrol Services Bureau, leading the largest section of OPD comprised of 500 officers.
Previously, he was commander of the Tactical Patrol, Investigative Services Bureau, Special Services Bureau, Airport Division, Metropolitan Bureau of Narcotic Section and a SWAT team member.
“I am confident that under Chief Smith’s strong, capable leadership, OPD will continue to work diligently in protecting the community against crime and ensuring that every person in our community feels equally valued and equally protected,” Dyer said.
Smith started by thanking all the people who helped pave the way and mentor him throughout his career over the years, including Rolón, Orange County Sheriff John Mina, retired Orlando police Chief Paul Rooney, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Congresswoman Val Demings, his family and his fellow officers.
“It’s an honor to be able to lead the men and women of OPD ... I’ll continue to remain committed to our neighborhoods work closely with community. I’ve always been focused on prevention. I’ll pursue better gun intervention programs that will help us remove crime guns from our community. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the men and women of OPD their hard work and dedication was given me this opportunity,” Smith said.
Rolón announced his retirement in a letter to the mayor on May 4. Dyer said Rolón leaves a legacy of leadership, having helped launch new initiatives aimed at increasing department transparency and building trust between officers and residents.
“Through your leadership, Chief Rolón, you got in the department during some of the most difficult challenges our community and nation have faced, including the COVID-19 pandemic and calls for racial equity ... But I wish you (and your wife) all the best in the next chapter of your lives,” Dyer said.
Rolón said at the news briefing Monday he’s excited to see what Smith does in the new role.
“Like it was for former chiefs and I, (Smith’s) task will be to lead the department to a better place for the next chief,” Rolón said. “This has been our tradition and this is what I accomplished. It will be his task to uphold this tradition. Our police department and community deserves nothing less. Congratulations to the incoming chief. I look forward to working with you during the next three months as you transition into your new role.”
In the letter announcing his retirement, Rolón said he intends to officially leave the position on Nov. 1, one week before his 30th anniversary since he started in the Orlando Police Department as an officer.
Rolón’s last official day of work will be Aug. 19.
Read Rolón’s retirement letter below:
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