RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association President John Kazanjian said he was outraged by the news conference by Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence Williams.
The chief said he was there to protect “his brand” and he did so by quickly throwing his own officers under the bus.
“This is bad,” Kazanjian said. “This is bad for him.”
The chief threw numerous allegations against his own officers without giving details.
“Officers who endanger the lives of babies by not responding timely,” Williams said in the news conference.
He also said officers were tipping off drug dealers, getting arrested in neighboring jurisdictions, and abusing sick time. He did not provide any details.
“Don’t be pointing fingers,” Kazanjian said about the chief. “He needs to look into the mirror.”
Chairwoman KaShamba Miller-Anderson said the news conference was a circus.
“I’ve gotten phone calls from people and they just really felt the press conference was a mockery and just an embarrassment of the way in which it was ran and the way in which the officers were thrown under the bus,” Miller-Anderson said.
The chief quickly dismissed the police union’s vote of no confidence which had passed 67-3.
He said members were intimidated by the union into voting against him.
“That’s just total lies right there,” Kazanjian said.
The intimidation, so Kazanjian, came in fact from the chief and his allies.
Several sources confirm that Cedric Thomas with Riviera Beach Police was outside of PBA, yelling at people, telling them not to vote against the chief.
The former councilman had been charged with sunshine law violations himself in the past.
Thomas was at the news conference to support the chief. We asked him afterwards if it’s true that he was intimidating officers not to vote.
Thomas just got into his car and drove off without a comment.
Kazanjian said it spoke volumes that the chief was surrounded by lawyers and ministers but not his file and rank.
“He has no respect for his rank and file,” Kazanjian said. “Do you think that press conference helped with morale? No! Morale is getting worse and worse.”
Chief Williams never addressed the by-invitation only meeting at Hurst Chapel on Sept. 28 directly at the news conference.
Sources say the group at Hurst Chapel, which included city council members Terence Davis and Lynne Hubbard, discussed ways to keep the former city manager Jonathan Evans out of office.
After the meeting the chief said he didn’t know about a meeting. The day after the chief changed his story saying he was there to protect city council members from threats they had received.
Kazanjian doesn’t buy it.
“If there was a city commissioner or county person getting death threats, the Sheriff or the chief wouldn’t go there,” Kazanjian said. “He would hire some deputies. In Riviera Beach they would hire police officers to go over there and protect those individuals. The chief going over there? I’ve never heard about that.”
Kazanjian urged city leaders in a letter on Wednesday to take action now.
The mayor, who could suspend the chief, said he’s still waiting to speak to the chief.
“It’s very interesting the whole press conference,” Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters said. “The chief held the press conference but yet he hasn’t spoken to us. So we have to learn where he is on these issues through media.”
Many officers told me they want the mayor to take action now.
The mayor has been waiting for almost a week to hear from the chief when they could schedule a one-on-one meeting.
Meanwhile, State Attorney Dave Aronberg said his office is paying close attention.
“We are aware of the situation in Riviera Beach and we are monitoring it,” Aronberg said. “But it would be inappropriate to comment any further on that right now.”