A police lieutenant who has spent 15 years on the city force was named interim chief Thursday, temporarily replacing outgoing chief G. Matthew Immler.
Lt. Jeffrey S. Katz, who has spent 21 years in law enforcement, will lead the department until a permanent replacement is found for Immler, who announced in May he was retiring after nine years as chief.
City manager Lori LaVerriere also said two other department lieutenants would lead divisions of the department.
Lt. Kelly Harris will lead the uniform services division, comprised of road patrol, K-9, the Community Action Team, marine enforcement, traffic unit and SWAT.
Lt. Steward Steele will manage the support services division, which includes the detective bureau, communications, records, crime scene and other departments.
“I am confident that (Katz) will successfully lead the police department through this transition period,” LaVerriere said in a statement.
Katz was unavailable for comment Thursday, but in a prepared statement, he said: “I am humbled to assume the responsibilities of this position, however temporary, and look forward to working closely with Ms. LaVerriere and our talented and committed staff, to move the agency forward.”
City commissioner Joe Casello said Katz “is the right guy for the job. He comes highly regarded by his peers, and he will add stability there while we search for a new chief.”
Immler announced May 30 he would retire after nearly eight years leading the force. His tenure was marked by a drop in the number of overall crimes citywide but problems within the department, including several officers getting arrested and city commissioners wanting a private consultant to review the department.
Katz is taking over the department just two weeks after LaVerriere dismissed two top Boynton Beach majors. Frank Briganti and Wendy Unger were hand-delivered termination letters June 27. Briganti was at one time considered a top contender to replace Immler.
Katz began his law-enforcement career as a police cadet with the Plantation Police Department in 1989. Four years later, the department hired him as a police service aide, and in 1994, the Parkland Public Safety Department hired him as a full-time police officer, firefighter, field training officer and officer in charge.
In 1998, Katz joined Boynton Beach police, first as a road patrol officer and eventually as a recruiter, high-liability training officer and background investigator. He was promoted to sergeant in 2001 and was charged with supervising a squad and eventually specialty units such as crime prevention, K9 and and marine enforcement.
A lieutenant for the last nine years, Katz was working as a watch commander before being Immler asked him to lead the department’s professional standards division, which includes internal affairs, training, media relations, recruiting and other divisions.
Katz is currently finishing his final doctoral studies course in organizational psychology.
Harris, who joined the department 16 years ago, has served as training sergeant, road patrol watch commander and special operations lieutenant. Steele, a Boynton Beach Police officer for 21 years, has worked in positions including undercover narcotics and traffic homicide.