Riviera Beach Police divided; Chief Williams attacks his own officers

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - A Tuesday news conference in Riviera Beach was designed to do one thing -- show the strength of the city's police chief.

Police Chief Clarence Williams came to the press conference with high profile lawyers Willie Gary and CK Hoffler along with several supporters of the chief.

RELATED: More coverage of Riviera Beach 

Williams said he wanted to set the record straight. 

“This is a political motivated attack to assassinate my character,” Chief Williams said. 

He called it a “witch hunt” but never specified who he thinks is behind it. 

After a press conference that had little substance, the chief finally addressed the vote of no confidence from his officers. 

“What do you think of the vote of no confidence?” The chief asked himself. “I look you in the eye and I say not much. Why because many of the people who voted at the PBA were intimidated.”

John Kazanjian, president of the Police Benevolent Association said the intimidation came from the other side. He said officers supporting the chief tried to keep officers away from voting. 

The chief never addressed the invitation-only meeting at Hurst Chapel on Sept. 28 directly. The meeting and WPTV’s investigation is in large what sparked the vote of no confidence.

WPTV learned that the meeting, which included the chief as well as council members Terence Davis and Lynne Hubbard, was designed to strategize how to keep the fired city manager Jonathan Evans out of office. 

RELATED: Firing of Riviera Beach city manager

“Anything that you saw, that you saw me doing since that Sept. 29 date was simply to keep people safe,” Williams said. 

To this date, the chief has never clearly stated why he was at the meeting. On the night of the meeting he said he wasn’t at the meeting. The next day he changed his story and said he was there to protect people. 

Councilwoman Hubbard said she had asked him to come to the meeting to protect her after she had gotten death threats. 

But the chief never clarified what he meant by “protecting people” and said he couldn’t go into details because of an ongoing investigation. 

Williams also refused to answer our questions as to why the chief of police himself would have to provide safety detail to council members at a meeting. 

Williams went after his own officers in the strongest terms. 

He accused them of tipping off drug dealers, hampering arrests, endangering the lives of babies by not responding in a timely manner, abusing sick time, and being arrested in neighboring jurisdictions. 

“For those officers who have forgotten the core tenants of the oath and who have resisted being held accountable I say shame on you,” Williams said.

Councilwoman KaShamba Miller Anderson said in a statement to WPTV that she thought the press conference was a “circus”. “It’s a slap in the face to our officers,” Miller Anderson said. 

What’s next in Riviera Beach?

Reaction came quickly in the wake of the Clarence Williams news conference.
 
Public safety is now a concern for this Riviera Beach man, Tradrick McCoy. 
 
“The first question I have is how could you put your police officers under attack,” he said in an interview. 
 
McCoy is the man who sued Riviera Beach when the three council members joined forces to fire the city manager -- and refused to explain why.
 
“The city has been in an uproar and I would've thought that the chief was begging a press conference to unify the city is bringing a press conference to motivate and unify the city. Instead, we saw the exact opposite,” McCoy said. 
 
Lifetime Riviera Beach resident Norma Duncombe watched the chief Tuesday.  She says the people support Williams, even if his officers do not.
 
“It's amazing that they don't have confident in him, but the citizens do,” she said. "The political thing, I just don't understand it."
 
WPTV has learned exclusively that a citizen led recall effort against those council members who fired City Manager Jonathan Evans will begin Thursday.

Amon Yisreal is helping lead the effort.
 
“I see it as a type of retaliation to fire him for misfeasance and not give a reason or explanation, is just disrespectful to the community,” Yisreal said. “If we want our city to grow the way it should, we need to change the leadership.”
 
The recall will start Thursday at 6 p.m. at J.A.Y.’s ministry. They have 30 days to gather enough signatures, more than 2,000, to begin the process. 

 

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