FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- Fort Pierce Police Chief Diane Hobley-Burney will keep her job, following a two-week investigation into allegations that she violated various city and police policies, and threatened and intimidated a resident.
Hobley-Burney will be suspended for five days.
Her actions were never found to be criminal, but city investigators did find Hobley-Burney to abuse her power, intimidating resident Rick Reed by showing up at his workplace and threatening him outside a city commission meeting.
Hobley-Burney says she was not threatening or trying to intimidate Rick Reed. She said she was only protecting her family after hearing Reed was spreading her son’s picture through the community and talking about his criminal record.
Reed says he was fighting on behalf of an officer that Hobley-Burney was trying to have fired for their relationship with felons. Reed said he was trying to show that the chief also has family with a criminal record.
City Manager Nick Mimms gave Hobley-Burney the five day suspension and 90 days to meet specific performance goals. During those 90 days, Hobley-Burney will have to meet tasks such as picking up recruitment goals, and rebuilding a level of trust between herself and Mimms.
Numerous residents spoke out a city commission meeting Monday night in support of Hobley-Burney keeping her job.
“We hired Chief Diane Hobley-Burney to do a job, and I think we should give her a chance to do her job,” one resident said.
They praised the chief for helping bring down the crime rate in the city over the last year.
Other residents do not think she is being held accountable for her actions, regardless of her successes the past year. “If I violate policy and procedures, it really doesn’t matter how much good that I did.”
One person who spoke out against the chief Monday night was former Special Investigator with the Fort Pierce Police Department, Borthland Murray.
Murray worked under Hobley-Burney. His job was investigating internal affairs and policies.
He brought pictures supporting some of the allegations he brought to the city against Hobley-Burney, disappointed that his information wasn’t given a closer look.
He said he was presenting facts, not allegations.
Murray says the chief was putting the department at risk for losing its accreditation. He also says the chief wouldn’t fully investigate police violations, and asked him to dig up criminal information about Rick Reed and Commissioner Reggie Sessions.
Murray says he was never contacted by the state attorney’s office, and had a very minimal conversation with city leaders.
“She doesn’t respect the policies. That’s going to trickle down. You’re going to have officers doing whatever they want,” Murray said.
He says he doesn’t think she was intentionally certain violating policies, but that she “may be in over her head” with her new job.
Murray says he wasn’t looking for a specific outcome, but says he was just doing his job.
Commissioners supported Mimms’ decision to put Hobley-Burney on suspension.
City Commissioner Reggie Sessions also supported Mimms, cautiously. “The city manager has an agreement with the chief of police, he feels comfortable moving forward, then so be it. But, I will not be intimidated,” Sessions said.
Hobley-Burney will return to work next week.