a man smiling outside at dusk.
Niceville's Interim Police Chief, Rob Lovering, hails from the Tampa area. He spent almost 30 years at Tampa PD and has served as interim chief in other locations as well.

Niceville’s New Top Cop Announced at City Council Meeting

Niceville's new police chief has plenty of experience reforming and modernizing departments. Here's what we know about him.

At their March meeting, Niceville’s City Council officially welcomed the new interim chief, Rob Lovering. 

Lovering, a 29-year veteran of the Tampa Police Force, specializes in modernizing police departments. One source with knowledge of the situation called him the “Bar Rescue of cops,” about the TV show where experts save bars from closure.

Related: Longtime Niceville Police Chief David Popwell Retires 

Chief Lovering has a reputation for taking over departments, updating or restoring them, and then turning them over to a permanent successor. In the last 10 years, he has stepped in at the Port RitcheyFort Walton Beach, and Crestview Police Departments. 

“I don’t come in and sit down just to keep a seat warm,” Lovering said in an interview with Mid Bay News, “I take a look at everything that is in the department, and I see if there is a way I could try to help it like [Niceville Police] Department. I see if there is anything I can modernize or update a lot of their policies and procedures and just change the direction that it was going in. Sometimes, when you have police chiefs in the department for a long time, they do great jobs – but they sometimes don’t do [things] that advance people.”

Lovering noted that the Niceville Police Department has few issues other than modernizing policies and procedures. “They just need to be brought up to speed a little bit,” Chief Lovering said.

Related: Niceville Named Safest City in Florida For The Second Year. 

Changes to Expect

Chief Lovering says there will be changes in how officers approach their duties in the city limits. He says NPD will work toward a community policing model emphasizing regular interactions between officers and residents, including Lovering himself. “I believe you lead from the front. I will be outside with him,” he said. I believe my officers will be more out there getting to know the citizens even better than they already know them.”

A timeline for a long-term replacement has not been announced, but Niceville City Manager David Deitch said they are looking for them now, and it shouldn’t take more than six months to accomplish. “Lovering is going to guide the ship while we search for a new police chief,” Deitch said. 

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