By Mary Thurwachter
Commander Sean Scheller was officially sworn in as Lantana’s police chief on April 23, two weeks after former Chief Jeff Tyson was fired after DUI charges in Boca Raton.
Scheller, who has been with the Lantana Police Department for 18 years, told the Town Council and residents he would “have an open door policy” and “get this ship going in the right direction.”
He will receive an annual salary of $88,500, the same amount Tyson had received.
Scheller, 42, grew up in Clearwater and has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Florida State University. He is a graduate of the Hillsboro County Police Academy.
He worked his way through the ranks of the 29-officer Lantana Police Department, starting as a road patrol officer in 1995, becoming a detective in 1997, and sergeant of support services in 2007.
Last year, Scheller became division commander of uniform and support services.
Since Tyson’s departure April 5, Scheller was acting chief until then-Town Manager Mike Bornstein named him chief on April 11.
Council members encouraged Bornstein to hire Scheller before Bornstein left to take the city manager’s job in Lake Worth. Toward the end of a lengthy meeting on April 9, a council member tried to make a motion directing Bornstein to hire Scheller, but Mayor Dave Stewart wouldn’t allow it, saying such a move would be violate the town’s charter.
Admittedly angry about the push to get Bornstein to hire a chief before he left, Stewart said his annoyance had nothing to do with Scheller.
“We do not tell him (Bornstein) who to hire,” Stewart said.
“I thought he was the right appointee, but it was the town manager’s decision and I thought the decision should wait for the new town manager (Deborah Manzo, who will begin May 7).
Tyson, 51, had been police chief since September 2010. He was arrested around 1 p.m. on April 4 by Boca Raton police responding to an accident on Military Trail in which Tyson’s Ford Explorer (a town-owned vehicle) rear-ended an unmarked Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office vehicle. Tyson’s blood alcohol tests (.229 and .234 percent) were almost three times the legal limit for intoxication.