TAMPA, Fla. — The police chief of one of Florida’s largest cities is stepping down to take a job in the private sector.

Chief Eric B. Ward said Thursday that he’s retiring after 29 years with the Tampa Police Department. The 50-year-old says he’s taking job as director of security with Tampa-based Coca-Cola Beverages Florida.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn says a national search will begin to find Ward’s successor. Assistant Chief Brian Dugan will serve as interim chief.

In the last 25 years three of five police chiefs were promoted from within, and a fourth spent 23 years at TPD before taking a chief’s job in the Florida Panhandle. He was then hired back as chief.

Ward became chief in 2015, replacing Jane Castor, who is considering running for mayor of Tampa.

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