Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
User Panel

Site Notices
Posted: 5/4/2003 4:11:20 PM EDT
Abuse Accusations Plague Key West Police Department

EY WEST, Fla., April 30 — The messages appeared a few days ago, stuck to the otherwise cheerful windows of stores selling T-shirts and paintings of blue, grinning dolphins.

"If you do not resist being cuffed by Key West cops," one of the handwritten signs said, "you may be giving up your final chance."

Another used an expletive to insult people who felt safe under the protection of the police. A third recalled the Nazis in referring to the beating of a handcuffed sailor.

Accusations that Key West officers have acted with excessive force over the last few years have tainted the reputation of the police department and cast a shadow over a town better known for its tropical charm and an air of unabashed, rum-fueled hedonism.

One former officer, Michael Beerbower, is to stand trial on May 19 on charges that he punched a sailor he had handcuffed outside a bar. Another officer was accused of pepper-spraying a suspect who was offering no resistance, a third reportedly beat a man with a baton, and two more officers were accused of falsifying reports about the beating.

Mr. Beerbower's is the only case to come to trial, but he and three of the other officers accused of wrongdoing have left the police force.

Most of these cases came to light in a two-year investigation by the Monroe County state attorney's office, which found that the department had failed to act upon, or even look into, some of the accusations against its officers.

"I don't think it's a department out of control," said Catherine Vogel, chief assistant state attorney for Monroe County, who will prosecute Mr. Beerbower. "It needed a wake-up call."

Last fall, after months of lobbying by a group of residents, voters here approved a measure to create a citizens' board to review complaints against the Key West Police Department. The process of choosing board members has already begun, said City Manager Julio Avael, who, along with Police Chief Gordon Dillon, had initially resisted the notion of citizen oversight of the police.

"There were some problems with the police department that we needed to address, and it was addressed," Mr. Avael said in an interview.

Sandra Butler Whyte, a resident who was a vigorous advocate of the citizens' review board, described "a real level of anxiety and mistrust in this community." She said, "There have been many, many cases of abuse, especially against minorities, that we haven't heard about."

The litany of complaints against officers is long. Four were suspended after shooting at a couple who were fleeing the police on Front Street, on the city's waterfront, in July 2001. The police chief and the city manager later overturned the suspensions, calling the policy on shooting in public places ambiguous.

The rest is here.

Link Posted: 5/4/2003 8:07:55 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/5/2003 9:32:34 AM EDT
How it that cop bashing? Or do you mean the cops are physically bashing citizens?
Link Posted: 5/5/2003 9:59:59 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/5/2003 6:08:50 PM EDT
There are two sides to every story, I have experienced both of them with cops from the same department locally.

One was a NAZI that went all felony stop psycho on me while I was locking up my place of business, he was totally out of control and on a serious power trip.  When he calmed down and realized he was a retard, he made ridiculous excuses for his behavior. My favorite was that he "just thought I might need help". I contacted the department and his commander and had him corrected, I even asked if they could reign him in without offical paperwork, it has never happened again.

Last month, I got a speeding ticket from a really decent motor cop, we swapped a joke and I got the speed reduced, we both knew I was speeding so what the hell.  

Someplaces have crappy cops, some have crappy chiefs, some drunks should shut-up and avoid pissing a guy with a club off, some of these stories turn out to be a guy with a warrant/suspended liscense/concealed knife or gun who was actually getting his just dessert.    
Link Posted: 5/5/2003 6:15:43 PM EDT
Cops are just like everyone else, some are OK, some are cool as hell, some are assholes.
Close Join Our Mail List to Stay Up To Date! Win a FREE Membership!

Sign up for the ARFCOM weekly newsletter and be entered to win a free ARFCOM membership. One new winner* is announced every week!

You will receive an email every Friday morning featuring the latest chatter from the hottest topics, breaking news surrounding legislation, as well as exclusive deals only available to ARFCOM email subscribers.

By signing up you agree to our User Agreement. *Must have a registered ARFCOM account to win.
Top Top