In December 2006, Somerville mayor Joseph Curtatone opened the city’s first ever national search for a police chief. Eight months later, he chose Anthony Holloway, a 21-year veteran of the Clearwater force in Florida, to make changes in Somerville.
Now they start all over again. On Tuesday, Holloway, 47, announced he was returning to Clearwater to become chief. He was two years into his five-year contract. Curtatone has released Holloway from the contract and appointed deputy chief Michael Cabral as interim chief.
Holloway had committed to the job beyond the contract: He and his wife bought a house in Somerville in October 2007 for $679,000, according to public records.
Holloway’s wife, Andra Todd Dreyfus, never relocated to Somerville and continues to practice law in Florida, Clearwater city manager Bill Horne confirmed.
The new job means a pay cut from $165,000 to $119,000. Clearwater has 108,000 residents compared to Somerville’s 77,000, according to city websites. Holloway left Clearwater with the rank of captain. He will replace Sid Klein, who has been the chief for 29 years.
In the end, his roots tugged him back home. ‘‘I’ve had a wonderful time in Somerville,’’ Holloway said in a statement. ‘‘All I can say is that Clearwater is my hometown. ... I always dreamed about running the Clearwater department someday.’’
Holloway’s success as a ‘‘change agent’’ in Somerville made him the top pick, Horne said. ‘‘He’s a real leader ... there is no question that his tenure in Somerville has really allowed him to truly grow into the position of being a chief of police.’’
‘‘I think Tony has a lot of corporate knowledge of Clearwater. He knows all the players, so I think that will be a real benefit to him,’’ Mayor Frank Hibbard told the St. Petersburg Times. ‘‘He’s gained some good experience up in Massachusetts, so I look forward to seeing how he’s going to do in filling Chief Klein’s shoes.’’
Curtatone credited the 16 percent two-year drop in Somerville’s crime rate in large part to the community policing initiative rolled out under Holloway. Advocates credited his responsiveness and openness to the immigrant community: A group met with Holloway weekly.
‘‘That progress will continue under new leadership,’’ Curtatone said in a statement.
The next step is hiring a recruitment consultant and assembling a nine-person selection committee, as outlined in city law. Along with requiring managerial, financial, and leadership expertise, the 2005 ordinance gives preference to ‘‘candidates who have experience in a multilingual and multicultural urban law enforcement environment from municipalities with a population of 50,000 or more residents.’’
Champion said Holloway had committed to work full time through the end of January.