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Photo by: Sarah Wilson - David Manuel said it feels like he never left the department that he started his career at in 1990. Now he runs his old department.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 9 months ago

New top cop in Maitland is a familiar face

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Manuel sworn in
by: Sarah Wilson Staff Writer

Maitland’s new police chief isn’t new to the city at all. He started patrolling its streets back in 1990, when the west side of Maitland was barely a blip on the map.

Back then David Manuel said he remembers going entire shifts without getting a call for service. Today, both the city and Manuel’s title and responsibilities have changed greatly.

On Monday, Jan. 16, Manuel was sworn in as Maitland’s new police chief. A formal, public swearing-in ceremony will be held Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 2 p.m. at City Hall.

Manuel returns to the Maitland Police Department after a three-year stint serving on the University of Central Florida police force. He previously served for 24 years in Maitland working his way up from police patrol officer to deputy chief, leaving that post in 2014.

“It’s felt like I never left,” he said on his third day on the job. “And it was nice to be welcomed back with open arms.”

Manuel is filling the shoes of former police chief Doug Ball, who stepped down last month after seven years in the department's top job. Ball previously served as the police chief in Winter Park, on the force there for 34 years.

“Dave is a perfect fit as Maitland’s police chief; he is energetic, experienced and dedicated to keeping Maitland safe,” City Manager Sharon Anselmo said in an email announcing Manuel’s hiring. “He is excited to build upon the great team of professionals that is the Maitland Police Department.”

During his tenure with the Maitland Police Department, Manuel was named officer of the year three times in 1991, 1992 and 1994. He is a graduate of Lake Howell High School, the U.S. Army - Non-commissioned Officer Academy, Seminole Community College Law Enforcement Academy, the Southern Police Institute University of Louisiana, and the FBI National Academy.

Manuel said the time he spent away from Maitland being “the new guy” at UCF was a blessing in disguise, teaching him important lessons that he’ll now use as chief.

“It was worth more for this position than any school I’ve ever attended for management because I was actually listening to these young officers, the things that you wouldn’t hear (as deputy chief)… the things you would never think about that they would like to see from their chief or their administrators,” Manuel said. “It was very eye opening to me.”

Before being sworn in as a law enforcement officer, Manuel got his first taste of service as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army.

“You learn a lot of responsibility, teamwork and leadership at a very young age (in the military), and I think that helped me a lot even through my law enforcement career,” he said.

Manuel said he’s excited to bring all of his leadership skills together to helm the police force in a town that feels like home. His parents met and married in Maitland, and he started his career here.

“My whole life has been spent here. That’s why it means so much to me … it’s more than just a job to me … it’s a heartfelt mission. I feel good doing the things I get to do,” Manuel, who now lives in Winter Springs, said.

“We all have to go to work … But it sure is nice when you get to go to work and you’re excited to be there.”

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