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COLUMN

Happytown

The city racks up more philanthropic arrests, the mayor tends to the million-dollar fountain and the police chief shuffles away. There must be something in the water!

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If you're a faithful Bloggytown reader, you know that on May 3, Orlando Police Chief Val Demings suddenly announced her retirement, three and a half years after becoming the city's top cop, leaving local TV reporters to speculate wildly over her future plans. Mayor?Congresswoman? PRESIDENT? "You are way too young to retire, obviously," cooed WESH-TV's Gail Paschall-Brown.

The Patrol Division's punchy Paul Rooneywas announced as Demings' replacement, and on June 9, in a regal ceremony at the Amway Center, that changing of the guard was made official. We'll have plenty of time to spend with Chief Rooney in the future, we figure, so why not look back on Mrs. Demings' career as Orlando Police Chief?

Our fondest memory of Val dates back to March 2009, when her pistol was stolen out of her city-issued car, an incident that went unreported for weeks, until a tipster alerted the Orlando Sentinel about the theft. Shortly afterward, a website sharply critical of Demings, operated by former city commission candidate Ezell "E-Z" Harris, went live online. The site, plainly titled chiefvaldemings.com, angered Demings so much that she threatened to sue Harris for defamation. The issue died down when Harris stood down, but he resurfaced in the headlines in November of that year, after he was booked into jail on charges of trafficking hydrocodone. Hmmm ...

Anyway, that's all we remember – oh yeah, there was her defending the officer that broke an 84-year-old man's neck – but we hear that she did a fine job as police chief, and to her credit, she bowed out before she was in charge of the men handcuffing young activists, perhaps as you read these very words. Touché, Val!

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