Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Isolation and Politics in the Police Department

Yesterday, I wrote about the outside investigator, Pat Franklin, who has been brought into North Bay Village to conduct investigations about "citizen complaints" that some police officers may have been involved in politics. I note the Mr. Franklin does not seem to be investigating the FOP Endorsements in our last election cycle, but spending his time questioning innocuous social media postings.

The net effect of such an investigation is to send an intimidating message to the officers and to the targeted civilians that not falling in behind the chief is dangerous. I'll write in more detail tomorrow as it has to do with the contract that was shoved down our throats.

But in the meantime, are the relationships any better with the citizens, the ones who pay the taxes and to whom the police department is here to serve? Not if you are not part of the political cabal that hired and continues to protect the chief.

Some small samplings - a "Meet The Chief" night with PAL became just a PAL meeting when the chief called in sick. He never rescheduled and never took the time to initiate any further interaction.

The police department does not publish metrics so we have no idea how many patrols are made, how many calls are responded to, what the police are doing. There are no published crime statistics for North Bay Village.

There have been no community meetings with the chief or the police since he started last July. North Bay Village has been concerned for some time that our police department was divided and not serving the community. Not a single thing has happened to change that perception. There is zero community outreach, something we had been very used to under Chief Pandolfi.

The suspension of the PAL/DARE programs was a community relations disaster. Daniels stonewalled the board and individual members, put himself in a bizarre argument with me when I wrote that "emails" had been ignored and let me know in no uncertain terms that he only ignored one email so the plural was an attack. Only when it was clear that this was a campaign issue and a liability for his political sponsor Rey Trujillo did he begin to respond.

Other residents have regularly reported that he is distant on the best of days.

We are a small town. There is a good argument that the only reason that we are a town at all is to have our own police force and we pay the bulk of our taxes to keep them.

It's time for the police chief to get out of the trailers, out of the secret meetings at city hall, and get out in the street meeting with the residents whether he likes us or not. Drop the faux investigations and stop intimidating the citizens.

Next Tuesday, December 14, the chief is expected for the first time to provide a public safety briefing to the commission and to the public. This was not his idea or proposal as it should have been, but at least maybe we will start to hear just what the heck the police department is doing with our money.

Tomorrow: Let's look at the contract.

Kevin Vericker
December 7, 2010

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