Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
7:15 pm EDT
Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Mount Dora Police Chief Robert Bell retiring this week

Police Chief Robert Bell, after 27 years with the Mount Dora Police Department, will be turning in his badge and retiring from his post effective Friday, August 7.

The announcement was made public by city officials in a statement released July 28, but Chief Bell had relayed his intent much earlier in a resignation letter dated July 1 and addressed to City Manager Robin Hayes.

During his tenure, Chief Bell, once named a Lake County Officer of the Year, has served the city and its residents as a Police Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Deputy Chief, and for the last year as Chief of Police.

“I truly appreciate the opportunity you gave me to spend my last year as Chief of Police. It has been a great experience. I worked to live up to your expectations and sincerely hope I was successful,” Chief Bell’s resignation letter says.

Chief Bell continues, “After spending half my life here, I am proud of my service and many positive accomplishments of the Mount Dora Police Department. Our overall goal has always been to ensure that Mount Dora is a safe and prosperous place to live. I strongly believe we have achieved that goal.”

Chief Bell also recapped the work he and the department have done and that he says he is proud of in both the city’s Northeast community and downtown business districts in the past year. His then “strongly encouraged” the city “to continue to place special emphasis on keeping those relationships strong and vibrant.”

Chief Bell also expressed gratitude for support he’s received from City Manager Robin Hayes and council members.

“…The support that I have received from you and our City Council, over the last year, has been exceptional. I am most appreciative of all you have done to help us be successful. Thank you for your leadership, your guidance, and your friendship.”

In response, City Manager Robin Hayes in a statement last week, thanked Chief Bell for his service.

“I want to personally thank Chief Robert Bell for his decades of service and his genuine love for our city and its residents. As he noted in his resignation letter, he has worked to ensure Mount Dora is a safe and prosperous place to live, and also worked closely this last year with our historic northeast community and the downtown business district to build strong community relationships. We wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

With that, City Manager Hayes, in that same July 28 statement, announced Chief Bell’s replacement.

“Today, I named Brett Meade, an accomplished law enforcement professional with more than 38 years in law enforcement, including 25 years with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, as the Acting Police Chief. Acting Chief Meade is recognized across the country as a senior program manager with the National Police Foundation, and as a leader in operational and policy development and implementation. He has a doctorate in education in Organization Leadership, a master’s degree in Public Administration, and a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration,” City Manager Robin Hayes says.

She also noted what she’d asked Acting Chief Meade to make his first priority upon taking the helm.

“Acting Chief Meade will begin work immediately on an entire review of the Police Department. Over the past month, issues of concern, including question about both personnel and policies, have been raised be members of the Mount Dora Police Department. Chief Meade‘s previous experience in this type of review, played a significant role in the decision to name his as acting chief,” she says in her statement.

She also says, “We are proud to be the nation’s first accredited police department and MDPD is committed to professional operations and treating all officers, staff, and residents with respect. That same commitment by leadership and staff also includes following procedures to ensure the best possible services are provided to the community. I have asked Acting Chief Meade to make this internal review one of his first priorities because these allegations and rumors at the MDPD, as well as documented policy violations, have the potential to detract from the mission of the department to partner with the community to preserve a safe Mount Dora.”

In conclusion, the city manager said she will notify the community of the findings when the review in complete.

“The review will begin this week and the outcomes from this process will be shared with all members of the department, the city council, and the community, as part of the city’s ongoing commitment to transparency and community trust,” says City Manager Robin Hayes.