St Augustine Beach is one step closer to replacing former Chief of Police Richard Hedges today after commissioners unanimously selected 41-year-old Robert A Hardwick from a field of five finalist candidates for the position during a short, special meeting last night.
In a head-to-head run-off between Hardwick and former SJSO Colonel Todd Thompson, Hardwick garnered support from every commissioner; after months of acrimony over what to do with the unaccredited police agency whose core functions are substantially duplicated by the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office.
“Rob Hardwick is an excellent employee and an excellent choice for the Chief of Police for any police department,” State Attorney RJ Larizza told reporters today. “He will be missed by his colleagues in my office.”
Hardwick began working in the State Attorney’s Office for the 7th Judicial Circuit in February 2003. According to an update from Klare Ly, obtained by Historic City News today, his current position is Assistant Chief Investigator of the Homicide Investigations Unit in the St Augustine Office.
Hardwick graduated magna cum laude from Flagler College; earning a Bachelor of Public Administration degree in December 2008. He went on to graduate from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia in December 2011.
Ralph Correa will continue to serve as Interim Chief until Hardwick is sworn in. The next step will be salary negotiations; Commissioner Brud Helhoski and City Attorney Doug Burnett will work out the details and report back with a “start date” before the commission’s meeting on Monday.