Riviera Beach Thomas Masters had a one-on-one meeting with Police Chief Clarence Williams on Monday.
The mayor had called the meeting after a WPTV investigation showed Williams attended an invitation-only meeting at Hurst Chapel on Sept. 28. Sources say the meeting, which included city council members Terence Davis and Lynne Hubbard, was to devise a strategy on how to keep the fired city manager out of office.
After the meeting the chief couldn’t explain to NewsChannel 5’s Wanda Moore why he was there. The next day he changed his story saying he was there to protect people.
The mayor said he had several questions for the chief but said he didn’t press the chief on the Hurst Chapel meeting since the chief said he couldn't talk about details because of an ongoing investigation.
“I didn’t get into the who, what when, where, why,” Mayor Masters said.
Masters said he asked the chief if it is protocol to protect other people and not wear a uniform, badge, or a gun. He said the chief responded saying that is up to the officer or chief to decide.
The only person who can fire the chief is acting Riviera Beach City Manager Troy Perry, but sources said he is unlikely to take that kind of action.
Masters had said before he’s not ruling out suspending the chief but that he wanted to have a meeting with the chief first.
Reporter: “I asked you last time, now you had the meeting, what are you still waiting for?”
Mayor: “I wanted to meet with the chief which I now have. I want to hear from the council.”
Masters is reluctant to suspend the chief if he gets word city council will overturn his decision.
We asked all city council members about their thoughts on the future of the chief. Most declined to comment or said it was not up to them to make that decision.
Chairwoman KaShamba Miller-Anderson said she is very concerned by the vote of no confidence that passed overwhelmingly against the chief by his own officers, and that the chief’s news conference was a slap in the face to the city’s officers.
Councilman Terence Davis declined to comment on Monday.
“I haven’t seen any documentation yet to address that issue so I’m just going to hold my comments until then,” Davis said.
The Palm Beach Police Benevolent Association, which took the vote of no confidence against the chief, sent a letter to all city council members, the mayor, and the city manager, detailing their reasons why the chief needs to be removed from office immediately.
Reporter: “Can you tell me what documentation you’re waiting for?”
Davis: “No thank you.”
Reporter: “Because I’m confused what you mean.”
Davis: “I’ve answered your questions and I have no more comments at this time. Thank you.”
Reporter: “So you won’t qualify…”
Davis: “I have no more comments at this time. And I’ve answered your questions. Now have a wonderful day.”
Reporter: “You haven’t answered my questions.”
Davis: “Have a wonderful day.”
The vote by Riviera Beach Police officers was clear. Out of 90 file and rank officers with PBA, 70 showed up and 67 voted they don’t have confidence in their chief.
“If the council says, 'oh we have confidence' then that negates the no confidence,” Masters said. “Because you don’t suspend someone you have confidence in.”
Reporter: “But the officers who work for him don’t have confidence. Don’t they count more than the elected officials?”
Mayor: “Everybody counts. It is time to do something.”
Masters said he can only suspend the chief based on two things: Misconduct or neglect of duty.
Reporter: “I’ve been getting inundated by officers telling me: ‘Finally somebody is listening to our concerns and it feels like it’s falling on deaf ears in the city. Is that a concern to you?”
Mayor: “Yes because we don’t want people to feel that way.”
The next city council meeting is on Wednesday and the mayor said that’s when he wants to hear from the public, the chief, the city council members, and the PBA.
“And then we go forward from there,” Masters said.
Masters said he also asked the chief about his accusations against his own officers during his news conference.
He accused officers of endangering the lives of babies by not responding timely, tipping of drug dealers, and other things. Williams never provided details.
“I asked him: ‘Who hired these officers that you spoke of?’ He said: ‘I (Chief Williams) did,’ ” Masters said.
Masters said Williams told him he was talking about 5 officers, two of whom are on administrative leave and three who have been fired.