a man in a police uniform posing for a picture
Lieutenant Colonel Chad Scibilia. KEYS WEEKLY FILE PHOTO

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office’s newest major and lieutenant colonel come armed – literally and figuratively – with nearly 80 years of law enforcement experience protecting the Keys.

As announced by Sheriff Rick Ramsay in a Thursday morning ceremony in Key West, Major Chad Scibilia, who formerly oversaw the office’s bureau of law enforcement, will assume the newly-created post of lieutenant colonel, adopting a more administrative role as he assists in oversight of ever-expanding law enforcement and corrections operations. (The last person to hold Scibilia’s position was Ramsay himself.) 

Taking Scibilia’s place and assuming command of the office’s Keys-wide law enforcement initiatives is former Marathon-based Captain Don Hiller, who is being promoted to major.

As Ramsay described, in addition to handling ongoing upkeep and maintenance of the various buildings used by the Sheriff’s Office, Scibilia will be charged with “helping us determine what’s the future of MCSO? Where are we headed, and what are the next steps in this agency that we should be focusing on?”

Nearly four decades after beginning his career in corrections in 1985, Scibilia told the Weekly that he’s “excited to help build and mold this position moving forward.”

“What I envision it being is the stopgap between our three chiefs in charge of law enforcement, detention and our support staff so they can focus on doing police work. … Our majors have a lot on their plates.”

Hiller told the Weekly he’s thrilled to “inherit a really good situation.” MCSO’s “clearance rate” has approached 50% in recent years – meaning the agency closes nearly one in every two current cases – and he wants “to keep that rolling.”

“It’s not like I have to come in and do a cleanup,” he said. “I’m lucky enough to have worked with all the commanders. … Hopefully I can fill in some blanks that they don’t know and help continue what we’re doing.”

“Most of my lieutenants and captains in the field worked for Don at one time. He trained most of them, so he has a really good relationship,” said Ramsay, noting Hiller’s extensive work throughout the Keys with assignments too numerous to list. “I’m looking forward to him working on teamwork, morale, uniformity and consistency as we look at the future of law enforcement.”

As all three described on the phone with the Weekly, Ramsay, Scibilia and Hiller share more than just a bond of brotherhood through law enforcement. All three are hometown heroes, graduating together from Marathon High School in 1984 along with current lieutenant Nancy Alvarez.

“I don’t think a person could ask for anything better in life,” said Scibilia. “This community and this agency have been absolutely fabulous to me and my family. … I always say that the day I wake up and dread going to work is the day it’s probably time to retire, because I certainly have the time to do so. But you can’t ask for more than to work for a person you have a lot of respect for both personally and professionally and come up through the ranks together.”

“I’m dealing with two guys who are just so well-rounded and so knowledgeable,” Ramsay added. “It’s good to surround yourself with people who you have confidence and trust in.”

Knowing they couldn’t reflect on nearly eight combined decades in law enforcement without retelling at least a few “war stories,” Scibilia recounted an investigation into boat motor thefts in the 1980s on the tail end of Miami’s “Cocaine Cowboys” era. What began as a surveillance assignment eventually resulted in the seizure of nearly 30 bales of marijuana from North Miami when his unit tracked a motorhome from Marathon’s Buccaneer Resort loaded with the drugs. 

Hiller recalled his involvement with the office’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) unit “traveling the world chasing drug money.” One of his proudest moments? A late-’90s offshore find of $50 million, half of which was eventually returned to the Sheriff’s Office via the Department of the Treasury to purchase equipment and build an aviation hangar.

“We had a ton of fun back then,” he laughed. “We were just this little office in the Florida Keys, and we did all that. We’ve done so much, and now I’ll be overseeing that narcotics unit. … It’s nice that I can hopefully help them and give them advice if they need it.”

Alex Rickert
Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.