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Fact-checking Riviera Beach Police Chief on crime statistics

Posted at 4:48 PM, Jan 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-31 20:02:50-05

Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence Williams is about to retire in February. For 15 years he served as the city’s police chief, the last five months were the most tumultuous of his tenure. 

“I don’t know that I would do anything different,” Williams said. 

First Williams lied about his presence at a secret meeting at Hurst Chapel on Sept. 28. 
Then his own officers delivered a stinging rebuke, a 63-3 no-confidence vote in his leadership. 

Then Williams held a news conference on Oct. 10, defending himself by pointing fingers at his officers and saying that he didn’t think much of the no-confidence vote. 

“The results speak for themselves,” Williams said Friday. “Riviera Beach has experienced the lowest crime it’s ever experienced.”

That is true. The crime rate in Riviera Beach has dropped, mirroring a countywide downward trend. 

“Our overall crime rate as we compare it to other municipalities is lower,” Williams said. 

That is false. Riviera Beach’s crime rate is 50 percent higher than the Palm Beach County crime rate. Out of thirty-four, the city ranks ninth for reported robberies, fourth for aggravated assaults, fifth for rapes, and third for murders, according to crime statistics the agency reports to the state.

As he leaves office, he has a message for his officers. 

“I say thank you for the memories to all of those persons whom I served with, regardless of how 67 out of 200 employees felt about the police chief,” Williams said. 

According to information from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), as of July 2017, Riviera Beach had 108 full-time officers. Out of those, the Police Benevolent Association said they asked only the rank and file officers (around 90) to vote. Seventy showed up and 67 said they had no confidence in Williams. Check out the graphic below and see how Riviera Beach compares.