Alumnus named Tampa Police assistant chief

When John Newman received his bachelors degree in criminology from USF in 1983, he did not expect that he would one day achieve the second-highest rank in the Tampa Police Department.

After being sworn in as a patrol officer in 1986, Newman made his way through the titles of detective, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and major. Promotions were something Newman had grown accustomed to.

But the way he learned of his latest promotion caught him off guard, he said.

Jane Castor, chief of police, asked Newman to show up early one morning for the Sunday executive staff meeting earlier this month. The major wasnt sure what to make of the request.

I had some thoughts on why I was being asked to come in early, but that was not what I was expecting, he said.

That morning, Newman learned he would take on the duty of assistant chief of police. He replaced Assistant Chief Mark Hamlin, who took a voluntary demotion to captain because of personal reasons.

Newmans wife, Dawn, was just as surprised by the news.

I was actually very shocked, she said. I knew there wasnt a position open and there was no one retiring.

The Newmans moved to Florida from New Jersey after they graduated from high school and attended USF. USF runs in the family their two daughters, Ashtin and Rebecca, both attended USF, as did five other family members.

At a ceremony held in honor of the promotion, Dawn said she was brought to tears after John mentioned her as his high school sweetheart.

I started to think of everything weve been through, she said.

Johns speech wasnt the first time Dawn had reacted emotionally to his job, she said.

On another occasion, it had had been hours since she had spoken to her husband, and he wasnt returning her phone calls For the first time it hit me that, oh my God, this is what my husband does for a living, she said.

When she finally spoke to him hours later, she said she was relieved to hear his voice and even more relieved that he was safe. Newman was in the middle of a huge narcotics case, she said.

For a time I was all about being a detective and being involved in investigations, John said.

Throughout his career and various ranks, Newman has been a part of operations and investigations. But now, many of his responsibilities will change. Those involved in narcotic investigations and SWAT team operations will now report to Newman.

As assistant chief, you have a lot of people who report to you, he said.

Though Newmans tenure as a police officer has been successful, he originally wanted to major in music. Eventually his love for law enforcement took over and he began pursuing his degree in criminology, he said.

Criminology is a good background to have, because it exposes you to what being a police officer is about, he said.

Though Newman received his bachelors in 1983, that wasnt the end of his educational career. He returned to USF in 1997 and received his masters in American studies in 2000.

Newmans daughter Ashtin, who received her bachelors degree from USF, said keeping the family tradition of attending USF going was a must.

Its just pride, she said. Everything we do is USF. Since I was a kid USF was always a part of my life. I dont think I ever considered going to school anywhere else. I dont see why I would want to.

Ashtin and Dawn work together as teachers at Martinez Middle School in Lutz.

Newman said he hopes that the USF tradition will continue in the family, and that both USF and law enforcement have become not only a sense of pride, but a defining characteristic of the family.

A lot of us at the police department have worked together for so long, and thats really cool to me, he said. Just to be a part of the tradition and the department is so rewarding to both me and my family.