The police union representing Riviera Beach police has voted overwhelmingly that they do not have confidence in the Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence Williams.
The vote of no confidence was 67-3.
John Kazanjian, president of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association, said the morale of the agency under Chief Williams is at an all-time low. Kazanijan said over the last few years Williams used his position to hire and appoint unqualified individuals.
“He rules by intimidation," Kazanjian said about Chief Williams. "If you’re not his little buddy, you’re not getting anywhere.”
Kazanjian did not pull any punches.
“He (Chief Wiliiams) just needs to leave," Kazanjian said. "He needs to leave now.”
Kazanjian said NewsChannel 5's story about Chief Williams attending an invitation-only meeting at Hurst Chapel on Sep. 28 is the straw that broke the camel's back.
“He gets caught at this church doing these backroom deals," Kazanjian said.
In a news release Kazanjian stated: "Most recently, the members watched the news report that Chief Williams was seen attending a ‘secret meeting’ with members of the City Council. The chief denied his attendance even after the media approached him. The chief later confirmed that he was there, but would not "reveal law enforcement strategy. As a law enforcement professional, the Chief should be held accountable for misconduct as defined by the policies and procedures of the City of Riviera Beach Police Department."
Sources said the meeting consisted of people who supported the firing of former City Manager Jonathan Evans. In attendance were Chief Williams, and council members Terence Davis and Lynne Hubbard.
After the meeting, Chief Williams was not able to explain why he was at that meeting.
“He (Chief Williams) is behind it all,” Kazanjian said. “Because he wants to be the city manager. He wants Alex Freeman to be the chief. But guess what? It’s done. It’s over.”
During Wednesday night’s council meeting, Davis made a motion to make the chief the new city manager.
Mayor Thomas Masters voiced his opposition to that motion, and so did the crowd by booing.
Masters also asked the chief to explain his role at the Hurst Chapel meeting.
Williams is scheduled to retire as chief and Alex Freeman hoped to replace him.
This was until the now former city manager Jonathan Evans told him he was not qualified.
Put it all together and Kazanjian said, Williams needs to be suspended immediately.
“Anyone is better than this man right now. He just needs to get out of here.”
Ironically, the only person who can fire the chief is the city manager. With Evans out, that is now interim City Manager Troy Perry.
The mayor can suspend the chief but the council members can overturn that decision.
Council Member Dawn Pardo said the lack of confidence in the chief is disturbing but she believes the chief about why he was at the Hurst Chapel meeting.
Williams had changed his story a day after the meeting, saying he was at the meeting as a law enforcement officer and couldn’t talk about the details because he couldn’t reveal law enforcement strategy.
“I take him for his word that he was there because of an ongoing investigation,” Pardo said Friday.
Reporter: “Isn’t it unusual though for the Chief of Police to go to a meeting to protect people there? That seems like more than normal…”
Pardo: “I don’t think it was to protect the people there. I thought he made a comment about intelligence they were gathering.”
Council Member Davis once again refused to answer any questions on Friday.
Davis: “I haven’t given you permission to film me.”
Reporter: “I’m on public property here.”
Davis: I haven’t given you permission to record me.”
Reporter: “I’m just wondering…”
Davis: “I’m not giving you permission to record me. Have a wonderful day. You’re welcome in Riviera Beach. You’re welcome on public property. But I haven’t given you permission to record me. Now have a wonderful day.”
Reporter: “Any reaction to the chief?”
Davis walked away without answering the question.
Council Member KaShamba Miller-Anderson said a special city council meeting is being scheduled to discuss the vote of no confidence in Chief Williams.
Aptly positioned on Friday nights, Evelyn Talbot runs her City Sweets Italian Ice stand from her driveway across the street from inlet grove high school.
It’s a night of unison.
“Where ever (football game are), it’s always good to get people out. Get them doing something they enjoy on one accord. Like what we need to do in the city. Get on one accord. And not five other accords,” she said.
“I consider myself a pretty active community person and I am shocked. Utterly shocked at some of the things I’m hearing,” Amon Yisreal said.
We first met Yisreal at the September 25 community meeting in support of fired city manager Jonathan Evans.
Amid the outrage, there has been a positive that's surfaced above the dysfunction.
“The wonderful thing about this is that it has caused the community to come together. That’s the wonderful thing about this,” he said.
There’s undeniable frustration, but ultimately hope that the city will one day will fulfill its potential.
“I have faith in my city. I believe that we’re going to get it together. I don’t believe, I know that we’re going to get it together and we’re gonna be exactly what our hashtag is. Live work and play,” Talbot said.
NewsChannel 5's Wanda Moore sat down with the president of the PBA John Kazanjian. Listen to the interview in the attached video.