Crime in Wilton Manors is our residents’ number one concern. It’s brought up so many times at the city commission meetings that the commissioners are getting tired of hearing about it! There are a number of things that can be done immediately to make our city more safe.
1. There are cameras in Colohatchee Park to help stop drug dealing, prostitution and men having sex in the park. These cameras need to be turned ON and the new park ranger hired in 2016 needs to spend as much time as needed to make this a park parents can take their children.
2. The chief of police wrote an article giving tips on preventing breakins. Make the house look lived in. Have a friend collect mail and newspapers. Yet the East Sider newspaper is thrown onto everyone’s driveway and there is no way to opt out of this. Many people have requested that it’s publisher, the Sun Sentinel, stop delivering it but they don’t. What a great way to let burglers know the house is vacant when residents go out of town! It’s also littering! I have been complaining about this to the city commission for years. Local businesses illegally put flyers on front doors. We need to crack down on this!
3. Homeless people panhandling in front of CVS are causing some residents to not feel safe and therefore shop elsewhere. And our $7 million per year police force lets this happen because they are too busy writing school zone traffic tickets for the revenue it brings in. It costs money to stop panhandling in front of our businesses so these companies are encouraged to hire their own security personnel. Really? Something is seriously wrong here. What about smaller businesses who can’t afford to hire security. That’s what they are paying city taxes for – police protection!!! We need to refocus our police force starting with replacing the current police leadership. I spoke with the five points CVS’s manager, district manager, regional manager and the vice president’s office in Providence RI. They understand the resident’s concern with safety and brought in a security guard during the evenings for six months. It temporarily solved the problem but the drugged up panhandlers have returned. Businesses can’t count on the city to keep them safe so they have to take matters into their own hands.
The mission of the Wilton Manors Police Department SHOULD be to safeguard the lives and property of the people they serve, to reduce the incidence and fear of crime, and to enhance public safety while working with the diverse communities to improve their quality of life. That’s what their website says. But it’s not. The WMPD leadership has consistently chosen to serve their self interests (policing for a profit) instead of the public’s interests.
If an officer clearly appears to be on steroids (Officer Kevin Loughran) the officer should be fired instead of watching him lose 40 pounds of muscle and then gaining it all back two years later! If another officer (Detective Frank Pilewski) doesn’t properly investigate a crime for the purpose of arresting someone he doesn’t like which exposes the city to potential lawsuits then this officer should be fired. The police work for the city – not their own special interests. In 2016 Commander Gary Blocker will spent two months taking an out of town FBI training course. Our cops don’t need extra training to combat teens who break into homes, panhandlers and speeders on Wilton Drive. They just need to do more patrols! Our police force will be one man down during this time. We need to change the way the police leadership thinks or else replace the police leadership. Gary and Scott like to tell people the new 12 hour shifts for the police will put more cops on our streets. Scott goes so far as to say double the cops. Come on! Wilton Manors residents aren’t that stupid!!! Lets get real.
Wilton Manors Police Arresting Spectator for not obeying their orders for crossing the barricades at Stonewall Street Fair & Parade on 6/21/2014. The police officer pushed her to the ground after exchange of words. Was she in the wrong or the Wilton Manors police in the wrong? You decide.
Wilton Manors police spanking
An incident of horseplay gone too far has led to the retirement of the Wilton Manors Police Department’s administrative manager. After the incident was reported, James Kirchoff, a former Hallandale Beach police chief, was placed on paid administrative leave on October 16th, and then subsequently acknowledged his inappropriate actions and retired November 6th.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, the specifics of the October 7th incident are as follows.
An unnamed female officer went into the office of city records manager Kerlyne Pierre to discuss a report. Kirchoff entered the room, and jokingly told the officer that he would “address her” if she was “causing problems”.
According to a report that was filed later, with Pierre as a witness, Kirchoff then grabbed the female officer’s arm, placed her into a light chokehold, and “sat down in a chair in Pierre’s office and escorted [the female officer] across his lap, allowing her backside and buttocks to be accessible. Kirchoff continued his physical contact with [the female officer] by’ spanking’ her buttocks two or three times.” Because of the nature of the incident, the officer’s name has been withheld.
The officer later discussed the incident with Sgt. Nick Fiacco, who immediately reported the incident to Commander Gary Blocker. During the investigation, the officer reported that although she thinks that Kirchoff’s actions were playful in nature, rather than sexual, she was still “shocked” by them and that she felt “awkward”.
Kirchoff, who had been with the City of Winston Manors since December of 2012, has known the officer and her family for her entire life. In a recent interview, he said that he had known her “since before she was born. She was almost like a daughter to me. It was just horseplay that was regrettable.” He also reportedly told Pierre that he was “the only one who could do what he did, because of their history together.”
In her witness’s statement, Pierre, while corroborating the account of the female officer, also told investigators that she had seen the two individuals joking around together before, albeit never in a manner that included physical contact. The female officer admitted that she often called Kirchoff “Uncle Jim.”
When questioned by investigators, Kirchhoff acknowledged that his actions were inappropriate, and after being placed on paid leave, packed up his personal belongings. Since then, it had no contact with the female officer, “Other than calling her and leaving a message on her phone to apologize.”
Chief Paul O’Connell, who accepted Kirchhoff’s retirement, had this to say,
“It was an unfortunate incident… a momentary lack of judgment. He was a valuable member of our department.”
Wilton Manors police chief, under fire, resigns
WILTON MANORS — Richard E. Perez resigned Tuesday as chief of police, according to Wilton Manors Mayor Gary Resnick.
The city commission had his separation agreement on its agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting, the mayor said. Perez will be paid for unused vacation and sick time, but the details were unavailable.
Perez, 58, the city’s first Hispanic chief of police, already was serving a 30-day suspension without pay as the result of sending racist e-mails from his work account. He was ordered to have sensitivity training.
But Perez’s departure may not have been a direct result of the e-mail scandal. According to a published report, it was due to his violating city vacation policy.
The South Florida Times reported that on Monday, City Manager Joseph Gallegos gave Perez an ultimatum after an internal investigation revealed that Perez had been paid for time off he did not report. The ultimatum: resign or be fired by Tuesday.
“The police chief has resigned subject to the commission accepting the separation agreement,” Resnick said. Under terms of the agreement, the mayor could not say why Perez resigned or whether the resignation was forced.
Gallegos did not return repeated calls to his office and home Tuesday. Attempts to reach Perez were unsuccessful.
Perez earned $115,544 a year as chief. He was hired in January 2006, having retired from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department after 24 years.
Commissioner Scott Newton said Perez’s tenure was up to Gallegos.
“It’s his decision,” said Newton. “He manages the employees. Until I see the paperwork, I will have no comment.”
Gregory Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-572-2084.
The South Florida Times had obtained copies of the controversial e-mails and reported that some of them appeared to be chain e-mails that featured derogatory comments about blacks, the homeless, and President Barrack Obama and his family. One of the e-mails also expressed disappointment that Obama was not shot during his inauguration, the newspaper said.
A police officer and two other vehicles crashed while she was responding to a call of a fight in Wilton Manors early Saturday, authorities said.
The officer suffered a minor injury to her wrist, according to Sgt. Christopher Chadwick. She was the only one hurt in the accident, which happened at Wilton Drive and Sixth Avenue.
About 9:30 a.m., several officers responded to a call about a couple of guys fighting in the street, he said.
One responding officer was traveling along Wilton Drive when another vehicle pulled into her path from a side street. “The officer started fishtailing and lost control of the vehicle and hit the truck head-on,” Chadwick said.
At the crash site, the officer’s damaged vehicle remained Wilton Drive. A nearby gray Mazda also had damage to its front right side.
The patrol car did not have its emergency lights on at the time, Chadwick said.
Nearby businesses will be checked for possible surveillance video footage and the patrol car’s black box will be pulled for data, including speed, he said.
A man who said he was involved in the crash did not want to comment.
“I’m very, very upset about the whole thing,” he said.
The crash investigation continues.
I have heard of and seen too many examples of Wilton Manor police speeding through town without their squad lights on and causing accidents. I hear they get airborne using the raised crosswalks on NE 21st Court while blowing through stop signs. This puts residents at risk to say the least! The WMPD is supposed to (but doesn’t) follow the same laws regarding darkness of window tinting as every other Florida citizen with the exception of K-9 vehicles. Code enforcement has tinting so black that you can’t see if anyone is inside the vehicle. Could illegal window tinting be a contributing factor in some of these costly and dangerous accidents? Law enforcement is NOT above the law – for good reasons!
Accusations of Lies and Racism in Wilton Manors PD
|Ron Woodson is fed up with WMPD.|
If you were driving north on Wilton Drive this week, you may have seen Ron Woodson. The Chicago native was standing on the corner of Wilton Drive and NE 21st Ct., right next to the Wilton Manors police station, with a sign reading “OFFiCER FERTiG LiES”.He claims that six months ago he and a black friend were the victims of profiling in Wilton Manors and that the police involved lied to cover it up. And he says he filed a complaint with the internal affairs department, and that his case has essentially been ignored.
I spoke with Woodson, a real estate investor, on the side of the street yesterday afternoon.
In addition to his sign, Woodson was also handing out copies of a letter he’s written to the “Citizens of Wilton Manors.” In it, he recounts the details of his run-in with the law.
“I’m a total straight edge kind of guy,” he told me. “I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I don’t even drink soda. I drink juice. And I am generally supportive of all police officers. But this–this is unbelievable.”
He says that early in the morning of March 25 of this year, he was driving his 2002 Honda Civic with a black friend in the car. They had spent the evening shooting pool–and not drinking–at Sideline Sports Bar. He was pulled over on NE 6th Ave, not far from Scandals. Within minutes, he says, there were five police cars on the scene.
“I was driving carefully, as I always do,” Woodson said. “Officer Fertig informed me that a light bulb above my licence plate was out. He was polite and cordial until he looked over and saw my African-American friend. Then he got very confrontational and rude. He told me, ‘You are strange,” made disparaging remarks about people from Chicago.”
Woodson says a Detective on the scene was very rough with him. “He nearly tore my shirt off.” And soon, he says, there was a drug dog on the scene. “When I asked why they were searching my car, which had no drugs whatsoever, they told me I could ‘hire a lawyer in the morning’ if I had a problem with it.”
After 40 minutes, police let him go with a citation for crossing a double yellow line. “In the ticket, they don’t even mention the light bulbs. When I got out of the car to go back and look at the light bulbs, they were both light brightly.” Woodson says he suspects the police lied about the reason they pulled him over to justify the search for drugs.
Within 12 hours of the incident, Woodson had composed a letter to the Chief of Police, complaining about the apparent racism and mistreatment. Woods was directed to internal affairs. “They also told me that none of the police cars in Wilton Manors have cameras. That would settle this whole thing. If they just showed me one second that looked like crossing a double yellow line. As a matter of fact, there isn’t even a double yellow line where they pulled me over. I have pictures!”
After months of complaining and checking on his case (he paid the $150 citation he received), Woods says he was fed up. So he went to the store, bought some supplies, made a sign, and decided to stand in the nice weather, telling passersby what he thinks of WMPD.
A phone call to WMPD late last evening was not returned. We will update this when we have both sides.