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On the Record: Three Riviera Beach police officers talk about Chief Clarence Williams

Posted at 11:48 PM, Nov 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-14 10:54:04-05

Three Riviera Beach police officers are breaking their silence and talking exclusively to WPTV's Wanda Moore.

They say they are afraid of repercussions from speaking out. 

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"I fear physical retaliation from the chief and his little minions," an officer said. 

"I'm personally afraid for my safety and my family's safety," another officer said. "People are demoralized. The officers are scared."

They say officers are scared of Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence Williams and those who support him. 

"He's by far the most powerful man in that city," one officer said. 

"Who is holding him accountable? Absolutely nobody," another officer said. 

The officers said that changed when council hired Jonathan Evans as their city manager in March. 

"Jonathan Evans was on the way to holding him accountable for what he was doing for several years," one officer said. "And once he saw that he was going to be held accountable, they got rid of him. For no reason." 

The officers believe the chief orchestrated Evans' firing. 

"His fingerprints are all up on this entire corruption and this whole coup that's going on," one officer said. 

They point to a secret meeting at Hurst Chapel, eight days after council fired Evans, which was exposed by a WPTV investigation. 

After the meeting, he said he didn't know anything about a meeting. 

Chief Clarence D. Williams: “I don’t know anything about the contents of the meeting. And why would walk up to the police chief and ask him…”

Bruce Guyton: “He just arrived.”

Chief Clarence D. Williams: “Yeah I just arrived.”

Reporter: “Oh, you just arrived? Because we saw you walk in earlier.”

Chief Clarence D. Williams: “I’ve come and gone. And you couldn’t have seen me.” 

The chief later confessed to being at the meeting. Multiple sources confirm the agenda was to talk about how to make sure Evans never got his job back, despite the public outcry over his firing. 

That lie by the chief on Sept. 28, the officers said, gave them the courage to make the "no confidence" vote, something they said they wanted to do for years. 

"The vote of no confidence gave a lot of people hope," one officer said. "We became strong. We became united."

That lie, the officers say, was the straw that broke the camel's back and convinced them what they feared for a while: that the chief wanted the city manager's job for himself. 

"My feeling was the same as every other officer that I've talked to," one officer said "That he is a liar, that put under pressure he won't do the right thing."

The officers also said it made clear to them that Williams would always have them under his thumb. 

"It was very important because of the fact that the officers saw that he wasn't just going to retire and go away," one officer said. "His plan, ultimate plan, was to become the city manager."

"It can't happen," another officer said. "Everybody is afraid of it. Everybody."

They also said when the chief held his news conference on Oct. 10, his words, but more so the chants of his inner circle, fueled that fear. 

"Ride or die," Leonard Mitchell with Riviera Beach Police Department said during the news conference. "Ride or die. Ride or die."

"I absolutely took that threat home," one officer said. "I've spoken to my family and have warned them."

"It was definitely threatening. There's no other way to look at it," another officer said. 

Now, the officers say they need the people they protect and serve to help them. 

"Recognize that this chief of police is a huge part of this. I call it a conspiracy because that's what it is," one officer said. "And we need their support. But we will always be there for them. Always."

Specifically, the officers want the public to put pressure on city council not to hire Chief Williams as city manager and not to make Alex Freeman the new chief.