RIVIERA BEACH, Fla.-- Rivera Beach’s Interim Police Chief Michael Madden has been removed from his position and is back to his prior position of assistant police chief.
He's being replaced by Major Spencer Rozier who most recently was listed as the assistant police chief.
Mayor Ronnie Felder had announced at a July 3 meeting that he planned to suspend Madden. “I have given notice to Interim Chief Michael Madden that I plan to suspend him from his duties,” Felder said at the time. “I will provide my reasons thereafter at the next city council meeting when I ask the council to approve said suspension at that time. However, within the next two weeks, I’m willing to explore other options.”
Something changed in that original plan, because Madden didn’t wait until the next council meeting, didn’t give his reasons to council, and didn’t ask council for their approval.
Councilwoman KaShamba Miller-Anderson said she was unclear of the reasons at this point.
Officially Madden has not been suspended or demoted but rather moved back to his former position. Since it’s not a suspension, the city manager and the mayor have the right to do so without giving a reason or asking council for approval.
Felder, reached by phone, said there were multiple issues that influenced his decision and that it was ultimately up the interim city manager.
Many believe a controversial incident from October 2018 is the catalyst. Body camera footage shows an officer’s K9 attacked a suspect who had already surrendered. After an internal affairs investigation, Officer John Vanderlaan was suspended for 84 hours, removed from the K-9 unit, and provided additional training.
Felder said Thursday that incident was not the reason for the removal from position and said it was a multitude of reasons, including low morale.
In March the Police Benevolent Association said morale at the police department had improved from the previous police chief Clarence Williams.
NEW: Riviera Beach’s interim police chief Madden has been downgraded to assistant chief. The mayor tells me multiple factors played a role but ultimately it was the city manager’s decision, he said.— Wanda Moore (@WandaMooreWPTV) July 11, 2019