The Fort Lauderdale Police Department
Compiled by Sergeant Pat Ruby
- Do you have any historical stories or facts about the Fort Lauderdale Police Department? If you do and you would like to see them on this page, please let us know.
- You may also read About the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, a brief overview of today's FLPD.
On March 27, 1911, the pioneer village of Fort Lauderdale, Dade County, with a population of about 250 people, was incorporated as a town. One of the first appointments made by the newly formed council in 1911 was that of Kossie A. Goodbread as first City Marshall at a salary of $40.00 per month and $1.00 for each arrest. Goodbread had been a deputy sheriff of Dade County, covering that portion of Dade from Hallandale to the Colahatchee River, which was the Palm Beach County line prior to being appointed as City Marshal. His enforcement equipment was a hand billy, a gun and a padlock. The padlock was to lock boxcars which were utilized as the jail for county prisoners until he could use the one telephone in town at the railway station to call Sheriff Dan Hardee in Miami to come and get the prisoner.
During his time, Goodbread supervised the widening of Dixie Highway (the only road to Miami) from 7 feet to 12 feet, from South Andrews Avenue and 6th Street to N.E. 54th Street and 2nd Avenue in Miami. Convicts leased from the state did the work. They hauled rock with mules and wagons and would open up a rock pit about every three to five miles. The first pit was on what is now known as Miami Road and 16th Street. The next was the Dania Canal. The convicts lived in camp cars on wheels which were moved each time a pit was opened. Eight mules pulled each camp car. A steam wood-burning road-roller was used to shape the road and a five-gallon water sprinkler can was used to oil the road when completed.
One of the first acts of the city council was to buy a mule and cart to pick up trash around town. As Goodbread was the only paid employee of the town, he always managed to keep at least one prisoner in jail to drive the sanitary cart. He was also the tax assessor and tax collector along with his other duties.
First "Chief of Police"
Kossie Goodbread was succeeded as City Marshal in 1913 by L. M. Bryan who was replaced by Henry H. Marshall ("Marshall" Marshall ! ) in 1915. In 1916, James Bert Croft ("Bert") was hired as a rookie policeman and became the second man on a two-man force. During his rookie days he had the night beat from 6:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M. seven days a week, at a salary of $90.00 a month. Total money paid to Marshall and Croft in 1916 was $2,695.00, which was considered big money in those days. G. D. Tenbrook, appointed in 1920 as Marshal, was the first to receive the title of Chief of Police. He, in turn, was succeeded by Lucian Craig in 1923.
Bert Croft was the first traffic officer in the Department, handling the traffic after the Sunday ball games at Stranahan Field. He was also the first Sergeant, Lieutenant and Assistant Chief of Police. In 1925, Bert Croft was serving under Chief Lucian Craig. In August of that year, when the Commission-Manager form of government went into affect as the result of a City-wide vote, Craig resigned as Chief. Croft was promoted to fill the vacancy, salary - $300.00 per month. Between September, 1924 and September, 1926, the size of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department increased from 2 officers to 26 officers, tied in to the great Florida real estate boom.
On July 19, 1925 Westside Ball Park opened. Located at SW 14 Avenue and W. Broward Boulevard, this baseball park encompassed four acres and included a grandstand and bleachers. At a cost of $15,000.00, it quickly became known as "Municipal Field". The Major League Boston Braves used the Park as a winter training camp, and the Minor League Lauderdale Braves held their camp here. Semi-Pro teams as well as the local High Schools also used the field. It was demolished in 1957, after 32 years of operation. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department now stands on the old Westside Ball Park site.
In February of 1926, the new City Commissioners, in attempting to upgrade the Police Department, searched for a professionally trained police officer and hired Cole Tavell from Palatka to serve as Chief. Bert Croft was reduced to Assistant Chief.
The Hurricane of 1926
As time went on it was learned that Tavell was drinking heavily, and shortly before the September 1926 hurricane when "he came into the station roaring drunk", as records state, he was fired. L. J. Schwingel was Tavell's replacement. On September 17, 1926 a hurricane struck, leaving 15 dead and 1,500 injured in Fort Lauderdale alone. The death toll for the state was 400. In the aftermath of the storm, a depression set in, and by 1930 the Department had been cut back to only 6 officers.
The Prohibition Era
As the police force was shrinking in size, the problems of law enforcement were increasing with the coming of Prohibition, which came to the United States in 1920. Fort Lauderdale had its share of problems during Prohibition as well. Officers spent much of their time chasing rumrunners and bootleggers. In 1925, Federal Prohibition Officers arrested Broward County Sheriff Paul Bryan, all his deputies, FLPD Chief Bert Croft, and six FLPD officers for "Conspiracy to sell and transport alcohol."
City Hall was the headquarters for confiscated liquor. In December 1926, 130 gallons of liquor and 5 stills were confiscated. The following month, 14 liquor joints were raided, 2 stills, 50 gallons of moonshine, and 17 pints of red liquor were captured.
A rum-running incident resulted in the first hanging in Fort Lauderdale (and the only legal execution in Broward County.) On August 7, 1927, Horace Alderman, skipper of a bootleg boat, shot and killed three men and wounded a fourth as he and his crew were being apprehended by the Coast Guard for possession of illegal liquor. Alderman was tried and convicted in Federal Court in Miami, and hanged at the Coast Guard Base Six on Fort Lauderdale Beach on August 17, 1929 at sunrise. Bahia Mar is now located where the Coast Guard Station used to stand.
During the depression, one of the duties of the Police Department and Sheriff's Office, was handling the so-called "hobo express." In an attempt to get undesirables out of the area, including those looking for work, vagrants were herded to the county line of each county. Fort Lauderdale transported its undesirables to the northern boundary of Deerfield Beach. It was either the "hobo express" or a 30-day jail sentence.
The Federal Aid Highway Bridge
On August 26, 1926 the Federal Aid Highway Bridge was opened, crossing the New River. The Federal Aid Highway (so named because Federal funding helped to build it), followed the route of the previous "East Street", and was later shortened to just Federal Highway. (Third Avenue used to be named Valentine Avenue.) The bridge remained open until 1958 when construction began on the New River Tunnel, completed in December 1960. It was renamed the Henry E. Kinney Tunnel in 1986 to commemorate the most vocal supporter of the tunnel's construction during a violently divisive era of tunnel opposition, Miami Herald-Broward Edition Bureau Chief Henry E. Kinney.
Since the early 1920's, land developer Joseph W. Young had been planning a seaport around the site of Lake Mabel, between Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood. J. W. Young had been the developer of Hollywood-By-The-Sea (now the City of Hollywood) among other projects. Henry Flagler's Model Land Company owned the land in question. Young purchased 1,400 acres in 1924, and in 1925, received commitments from Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale for $2 million in cash or services to help finance the project. Mr. Young ultimately was financially unable to complete the project, and in 1927 his dredging company was taken over by the Broward County Port Authority. Dredging began that year, and the Port officially opened on February 22, 1928. In 1930, the women's club held a contest to chose a name for the facility and Port Everglades was chosen.
"Public Safety" Department
During the recession and the Prohibition era, several men served terms as Chief of Police. Alonzo Emanas (1928-1929) and J. P. A. Hertlein (< biblio >) succeeded L. J. Schwingel (1926-1928). Lucian Craig, who had served from 1923 until his resignation in 1925, was reappointed in November of 1929. He served until 1932 when A. G. Shand took over. Mr. Shand's appointment as Postmaster of Fort Lauderdale in April 1935, ended his police career.
John L. Cody, then Fire Chief, was asked to serve as Chief of both Fire and Police Departments. It was an impossible job and after two weeks, he returned to his position as Fire Chief. The Police Chief vacancy was filled on April 15, 1935, with the appointment of John G. Kaiser. He also served as Clerk of the Court with the title of Assistant City Clerk since the Police Station and Court were combined.
Kaiser was Safety Director of both the Fire and Police Departments from 1939 through 1941, and during the early years of World II he served in the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He and his wife lived in a small house across from St. Anthony's Church, and grew hybrid Mangos. He died August 17, 1965. Even after his death, any police officer visiting Mrs. Kaiser would leave with a sack full of Mangos.
During his term, Chief Kaiser reduced the workday to 8 hours with a day off every 10 days. Prior to this, policemen worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for a weekly salary of $17.50 . (At that time, carpenters received 75 cents an hour, hamburger sold for 19 cents a pound, fresh tomatoes three pounds for 10 cents, coffee 29 cents a pound, and bread, 10 cents for large loaf.) Policemen had to buy their own uniforms, guns and equipment, amounting to about $100.00. The only equipment furnished by the City was the badge.
The first paddy wagon in the early 1920's had been an old Lincoln car which ultimately broke down and was discarded. As soon as Kaiser became Chief in 1935, he replaced it with a panel truck.
The First Bicycle Unit
By now, the Department had four vehicles, but the men assigned to the beach used bicycles. Bicycles provided a quieter means of transportation and were useful in apprehending thieves who preyed on the beach section.
At that time, the Police Station was located in the old City Hall complex in the area now occupied by the Broward Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Avenue. Until 1933, both the City and Police Department offices along with the jail and the Public Library were housed on the second floor of the first addition to the City Hall. In 1933, the Public Library moved to its own quarters and the Police Department was moved to the first floor next door to the Fire Department. The jail consisted of two cells with a capacity of four persons.
Under Kaiser, a larger cell was added so that a total of eight persons could be jailed. These quarters were insufficient on busy nights when as many as twenty-one persons had to be crammed into the available space.
Most of the time the police station was unmanned, and a fireman from next door would answer the phone. "If a policeman was needed at the station the fireman would turn on a switch which lit on a red light on the N. Victoria Park Road water tower. That light could be seen from most sections of the city, and the first policeman noticing the light would then return to the station to handle the complaint.
Two-Way Police Radio
Radios were first installed in police cars in 1936, after which the red light signal was discontinued.'' The FLPD Radio Station was "WAKO", with one operational base two-way radio, and two more being built. Sixteen officers were certified to use it. The radio call sign later changed to "KIB713".
In 1937, R. B. McDonald, a veteran police office, replaced John Kaiser as Chief. At that time, Fort Lauderdale was just emerging from problems of the depression, the Prohibition era, and shortages of personnel and finances. H. S. "Shorty" Becker replaced Chief McDonald in 1940 after a change in the City Commission. McDonald returned to the Sheriff's Department, where he had spent two years previously. In July, 1941 the Civil Service was established by a vote of the people. This was the beginning of the merit system whereby only qualified employees could be appointed.
Chief Becker remained chief until 1944 when Captain R. A. Addison took over as Acting Chief. When Addison resigned after a lengthy sick leave, George B. Hanna was appointed Acting Chief in his place. Hanna had been with the Department since 1937 and was a Sergeant.
World War II
During the years of World War II, the Police Department was faced with a shortage of qualified personnel as many of its men went into military service, and was burdened with the location of nearby military bases. Military Police and Navy Shore Patrol assisted the Department in the enforcement of the law. Total Police personnel in those days ranged from 25 to 30. Some nights as many as 3,000 servicemen would be in the city, and a certain percentage of them would get into fights and other trouble. During 1944 and 1945, a radar school was operated in the old Tradewinds Hotel and some of the servicemen engaged in pranks on their night out.
Officer Charlie Wrains (deceased August 22, 1965) recalled one incident when the servicemen walking home, decided to make E. Las Olas Boulevard impassable to cars. They went into yards and collected garbage cans, flower pots, lawn chairs and anything else they could lay their hands on and scattered the articles along the roadway. Officer Wrains contacted the commanding officer of the school, Captain P. H. Fitzgerald, at 3:30 A.M. to inform him. The captain ordered the students out to remove every item they had thrown along E. Las Olas Boulevard and then clean the street. No problems of this sort occurred again.
New City Hall
During the mid 1940's, conditions at City Hall had been getting increasingly crowded and plans for construction on a new building were initiated. In 1945 the total City Hall property was sold to Burdine's and the various departments were relocated. The Police Department was temporarily moved to the old Tarpon Lumber Company building at the corner of N. Andrews Avenue and 6th Street. In 1948, the "new" City Hall at 301 N. Andrews Avenue was completed and the City Offices plus the Police and Fire Departments moved in.
Roland R. Kelley, with the Police Department since 1937, was appointed as Chief of Police in August 1946. He had recently returned from duty in Europe where he had achieved the rank of Captain in the armored tank division of the Army. With Kelley's appointment, George Hanna stepped down as Acting Chief with a promotion to Captain, a rank he held until his retirement in October 1957. (He died May 7, 1962.)
The Fort Lauderdale Police Reserves began in the mid 1940s. It was formed under the civil defense act shortly after the end of World War Two. The early years consisted of minimally trained volunteers who answered telephones, assisted with booking, and did general duties around the police station.
The Security Patrol
While with the Department, Hanna served again as Acting Chief, from October 30, 1950 through February 1951 while Kelley was away in Birmingham, Alabama, working with the F.B.I. in order to broaden his training as Chief. Kelley served as Chief of Police for ten years. He had started with a small department of 31 officers and by 1956, it had grown to 89 officers. A new idea of his about law enforcement was the formation of the Security Patrol in which Police officers were trained in fire fighting techniques. They were equipped with "modern" life saving and fire extinguishing paraphernalia.
The Security Patrol functioned as a police unit until a fire signal was flashed, and then the security officer received orders from the fire duty officer.
In 1952, numerous 17-year-old juveniles were found using fake duplicate Driver's Licenses to make themselves pass for 22 year olds. During the postwar years, illegal gambling (bookmaking) was also a problem around Fort Lauderdale.
In 1954, the Peters Road Pistol Range was opened. It remained the FLPD Range until neighborhood pressures caused its closure in 1984.
Chief Kelley resigned on March 19, 1956, to make an unsuccessful bid for the office of Sheriff of Broward County.
The First Broward County Police Academy
J. Lester Holt, then a Captain, was made Acting Chief on March 19, 1956, and appointed Chief on May 24, 1956. Holt had been hired in 1941, earning $22.50 a week. He had also been called to active duty during World War II. Chief Holt worked on raising standards for police applicants. Holt was instrumental in founding the Broward County Police Academy, whose headquarters were located in the Fort Lauderdale Police Department building.
Under Chief Holt, compensatory time was secured for officers attending Court during off-duty hours. Crash helmets for the motorcycle squad were put into use for the first time.
In 1957, the first monthly department newsletter, "Station Break", was started under Chief Holt, an ex-boxer. The Chief's secretary, Dottie Lofstedt, did most of the writing, typing and copying Station Break. Holt was the first president of the Broward Chief's Association, 1958.
In 1959, the Department, along with the Municipal Court, moved from its quarters in the City Hall to its own new building at 1300 West Broward Boulevard. In 1960, the Harbor Patrol Unit was begun with 6 Officers under the supervision of Sergeant Roy Jansen.
What Are You Doing... Here?
In September 20, 1965, a burglary occurred at 259 SW 21 Terrace, Fletcher Smith, Inc. Officer Don Harrington spotted the suspect vehicle and went in pursuit, chasing the car to Sterling Road and 100 Avenue, where he lost control and went upside down into a canal along the road. The maroon Corvair with two suspects sped away.
Officer Bryan Brooks, two miles behind the pursuit, saw Harrington's taillights disappear, and saw a red glow coming from the water. He stopped to find the police car with its door jammed and Officer Harrington trapped inside. Officer Brooks quickly obtained a crowbar from his trunk and forced open the door, freeing Officer Harrington, and saving his life. Officer Harrington said the first thing he remembered Brooks saying to him was, "What are you doing down here, babe?"
Officer Brooks received a heroism award for his quick reflexes and brave actions and he is listed in the National Police Hall of Fame in Port Charlotte, FL. Bryan went on to become a Sergeant and later left FLPD to run his own Dive shop. We are proud to have him back as a Police Service Aide. Officer Don Harrington also went on to become a Sergeant, retired from FLPD, just couldn't leave, and stayed on as Crime Analyst until this past year, when he really retired.
In 1966, Officers received a 5% pay raise, making their salary range from $400.00 -$500.00 a month.
On February 15, 1967, Chief Holt suffered a terminal massive cerebral hemorrhage. Upon the death of Chief Holt, Major Robert Johnston was moved up to Acting Chief, and promoted to Chief of Police on March 3, 1967.
First Youth Observer's Program
In size, the Department now numbered 361 men. Chief Johnston was an avid fisherman, and, the Harbor Patrol got five new boats in 1967. In the same year, Chief Johnston formed the first Police Community Relations Unit with the purpose of recognizing and relieving community tensions. The Police Youth Auxiliary (P.Y.A.) was formed to allow youths between 16 and 21 years of age to ride with officers on their regular patrol to give the youths first hand exposure to problems of the Police Officer and, on the converse, to give officers an understanding of the attitudes of youth. Among many other PYA's who later became Police Officers was Dave Nickerson, who was a junior in High School in July 1969. In 1975 the Police Cadet program for 18 year old (prospective police officers) was started. Cadets were hired under a Federal Grant, worked full time for $62.75 a week, and attended college full-time. They were required to maintain a 3.0 average, and had to pass their entire Police applicant testing in order to join the program. Former cadets include Detective Bob White, Sergeant Bob Dietrich, Cliff Douglas who was also a Cadet (AKA PYA) way back in 67 & 68. Cliff left to do his turn in the US Coast Guard and then came back in 74 as a police officer. Captain Lenny Schneider was also in the program. He was the last cadet before the program was discontinued.
"Where the Boys Are"
In the late 60's Spring Break arrived, an event that became an annual herald to Easter, by the arrival of thousands of college students determined to party their vacations away. Strict ordinances regarding the consumption of alcohol on the beach put a damper on the party in the late 80's.
In November 1968 the FCIC/NCIC Teletype system became a reality for the FLPD. In August, 1969, the Communications Center, formerly located on the ground floor ("Old Betsy") was relocated to the Third floor, with "new computerized" equipment. In July 1970, the first Police Aircraft unit began, with a Cessna 150. In 1971, one of the 65 Reserve Officers was Les Mellott. Les retired from the ranks as a regular on January 1, 2000.
In 1970, "The Monster", an armored Police Vehicle was purchased at a cost of $43,000.00 to assist in handling racial riots which had begun in 1969. The Monster was subsequently used during "New Years Eve" riots, and is still in use today as a SWAT vehicle. In 1972, the Radio Call Sign for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department became KTU206, with the new radio system. In May 1973 the FLPD first began to carry portable police radios.
Leo F. Callahan served as Chief from 1973 until 1983. He weathered the department through years of Spring Break and New Year's Eve riots. Female officers at FLPD had been used as matrons and juvenile or plain clothes officers, until 1974 when Callahan first put female officers in Road Patrol in uniform. The first two were Martha Atwater and Patricia Bassat (Ruby). Callahan was elected International Association of Chiefs of Police President in 1982, and made an unsuccessful bid for Lieutenant Governor in 1981.
Around 1973, the first Canine Unit was started at Fort Lauderdale Police with Sergeant Ryan Runnerstrom in charge. Then a rookie officer Joe Donisi recalls the incident when he took off in pursuit of a burglar fleeing from the crime. Not knowing that K-9 was on the scene, nor just what it was that they did, he caught the culprit and was rolling on the ground with him when the Police Dog sailed over Joe's head and latched on to the suspect. Donisi continued to try to restrain the suspect, not realizing that the dog was doing just fine on his own!
Shootout at 1300
On May 5, 1973, members of the notorious "Hyder Gang" who had been pulling robberies all over the County, were located and taken into custody at 2:30 PM at Connie's Bar on State Road 84. At 3:00 PM, Officers Fred Holmes and Fred Hollowell were at the Fort Lauderdale jail conducting a search of the prisoners in a holding cell, prior to booking. (The jail at that time, was located on the second and third floors of the Police Station, where Forensics and Training are now located.) These vicious outlaws had been searched several times already, and at least one weapon had been removed from each of them.
However, Lee Max Hyder had managed to conceal a Luger 9mm automatic in his waistband, and pulled it out while he was stripping for the search. Hyder shot Officer Holmes in the hand, and the bullet then hit Officer Hollowell in the stomach. Officers outside of the holding cell immediately took steps to prevent Hyder's escape.
After 90 minutes of negotiation, Lee Max Hyder left the holding cell with Officer Holmes as a hostage. Officer Hollowell was left, bleeding in the cell. Hyder demanded to take his younger brother, Richard Dare Hyder, with him in the escape. (The third Hyder brother, Charlie, had been killed earlier that year in a Dade County supermarket robbery.) The Hyders were armed with the Luger 9mm and two service revolvers. The others who had been arrested with him, declined to join in the jail break.
The escape route planned for Hyder was to take him down the main stairway, and into the lobby, out the front door, to a waiting green Plymouth. (The vehicle was arranged to have a nearly empty gas tank and no police radio. The route was also lined with officers and sharpshooters whose orders were to prevent the Hyders' escape and prevent Officer Holmes from being taken from the building as hostage. Coming down the main stairwell, between the second and first floors, Lee Max Hyder was holding a gun to Officer Holmes' back, but fell a step behind presenting the opportunity for sharpshooters Hank Beidler and Craig Arlotta to get off clean shots without injuring Officer Holmes. By 5:30 PM, it was all over. Richard Dare Hyder was deceased on the scene. Lee Max Hyder recovered from his wounds, and ultimately went to jail. Ironically, he escaped from a Florida prison in the 1980's and returned to Fort Lauderdale where he engaged in another robbery spree, hitting mostly Publix supermarkets. He was again arrested and jailed. Fred Holmes is currently employed as BSO Deputy. Officers Hollowell and Beidler are now retired. Sergeant Arlotta continues to serve his city and its citizens.
"S-49, S-41 Hold Up Type"
On July 22, 1974, Officer Walter Ilyankoff responded to a silent holdup alarm at the Red Lobster restaurant at 5900 N. Federal Highway. Minutes later he lay dying, shot by the robbers who also stole his police car for the getaway. After an intensive search, suspects were apprehended, having abandoned the police unit at NW 31 Avenue and Prospect Road. Those who heard his cries for help on the police radio as he lay dying, will never consider any alarm "routine" again.
Community Service Aides
In 1976, Fort Lauderdale Police started the Community Service Aide (CSA) Program, the first of its kind in the country. Approximately 35 civilians were hired, trained, and certified to handle accidents and non-violent police reports. Sergeant Gordon Schofield (retired) ran the unit, with the able assistance of Officer Brad Gaughan and others. Among the many former CSA's still employed with the City are Officers Jim Halleran, Kerry Hardison, and Bob Howell, Detectives Sherry Koerick, Roy Brown, and Bill Walker, Aides Lola Hardister, Bonnie Veltri, Fran Baglia and Caroline Homer, and Fire Department's Shane Morgan. This was the pilot program for the current Public Safety Aide (PSA) program.
In 1981, the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport Police Department ceased to exist, and the Executive Airport became the responsibility of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. In 1983, as a result of legislation proposed by Fort Lauderdale Police, this Agency seized and confiscated numerous aircraft that were fictitiously registered and illegally modified for drug smuggling.
In 1983, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department opened its own municipal jail. It had a capacity of 89 inmates, and is the only municipal jail in the State of Florida. Some of the bed space is leased to the U.S. Marshalls and INS, while other space is used for city prisoners waiting for trial, or serving their sentence after trial. The jail is licensed as a Drug Rehabilitation facility by HRS. Future plans include capacity expansion, and two new holding cells.
Ronald Cochran was appointed Chief in 1983 and served until 1987. He had worked his way up through the ranks, having served as a Motor Unit Sergeant in the late 60's, which earned him the nickname of "Boots". Cochran was well known for caricatures and cartoons which he had penned since his patrolman days. Some had even been published in the local newspaper. Under Cochran, officers wore shorts for the first time (the famous team of Kevin Allen and Frank Adderley), rode bicycles again (Lenny Schneider), were allowed to wear beards in uniform, and got to carry electric Stun guns. The Mounted Unit was started December 3, 1983, with Sergeant Bob Dietrich and 6 officers. In 1986, the first Fort Lauderdale "Community Police" activity was begun in the Sailboat Bend area, on bicycles. Chief Cochran later ran for, and is currently, the Sheriff of Broward County.
Joseph C. Gerwens became chief after Cochran and held the office from 1987 through 1992. By 1988, the chaos of Spring Break had downsized to a more manageable level. During Gerwens' term of office, the Police Department went through a reorganization from three Bureaus to four. In 1991, the new indoor Police Range located on the third floor of the Police Department became operational. Other renovations of the second and third floor wings included new offices for the Training Unit and the Forensics Unit, finished in 1992.
Police Memorial Runs
In 1990 and 1991, Fort Lauderdale Police sponsored the Police Memorial Runs, 5K and 10K races along the Beach, designed to raise money for a Police Memorial to be erected in the Esplanade of Riverwalk in memory of those Fort Lauderdale Officers who have made the supreme sacrifice. To date, the site has been selected, and bids are being considered for the monument.
In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew became the City's worst nightmare, as this Agency mobilized the Hurricane Plan. Luckily, Fort Lauderdale was spared the brunt of the storm, and was able to assist those less fortunate in Homestead by providing police officers, vehicles, radios, and supplies to assist the Homestead Police and citizens.
Chief Gerwens became ill in late 1992, underwent heart bypass surgery, and retired as a result of his medical condition.
Norman Botsford held the position of Acting Chief of Police from October through December 1992, filling the vacancy left by Chief Gerwens. He retired to seek employment under Sheriff Ronald Cochran at Broward Sheriff's Office.
Chief Thomas D. McCarthy was hired from Gastonia, North Carolina, and took office in 1993. The first Citizen's Police Academy was held during his tenure and the Special Problems Unit (SPU) was initiated on the Beach, riding bicycles again! Under McCarthy, the City and the Police Department settled a three year labor dispute and negotiated a successful Union Contract, signed off October 6, 1994.
With the antiquated Police Radio system unreliable at best, Chief McCarthy had mobile Police Radios installed in the Police Cars to facilitate communications. The new 800 Mhz radio system was in the works, and after several years of planning and bids, became operational in 1994. Department reorganization in 1994 created three Bureaus from the previous four, and put more people back in the Patrol Division. Chief McCarthy remained with Fort Lauderdale Police until October 1994, then accepted a job offer to became the Assistant City Manager of Gaston County, North Carolina.
Joseph M. Donisi was appointed as Acting Chief of Police (twice) while the City Manager conducted national screening processes for Chief applicants. Donisi held the position from December 30, 1992 through April 5, 1993, and from October 12, 1994 through July 17, 1995. In January, 1995, the Police Mounted Unit relocated from the NW wellfield area to a new barn located in Holiday Park.
CPI and PSA's
Also in 1995, the Community Police Initiative (CPI) unit was formed under the COPS grant, with one Sergeant and 12 Officers. While Donisi was Chief, the Internal Affairs Unit was expanded to ease the burden of Patrol Sergeants' handling citizen complaints. Additional marked units were added to the fleet under the same grant. During this year, the groundwork was laid for the PSA (Public Safety Aide) program, which was later implemented under Chief Brasfield. Forty civilians were again trained and certified to handle accidents and calls as did the original CSA's.
Wall of Tears
In the history of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, several officers have been killed in the line of duty. Sergeant Dwight R. Johnston was killed on April 5, 1947 when a vehicle turned in front of his police motorcycle accident. Mrs. Patsy C. O'Neill, meter checker, was killed on October 13, 1964 when a car struck her scooter and dragged her under the wheels of the car. Motorcycle Officer Donald E. Kirby, Jr. died on October 9, 1968 as the result of injuries suffered in an accident while on duty. Officer D. Walter Ilyankoff was shot and killed on July 21, 1974 during a Robbery in progress at the Red Lobster restaurant, 5900 N. Federal Highway. Sergeant Gregory J. Connors was killed when a motorist cut off his police motorcycle at State Road 84 and SW 4 Avenue, on November 12, 1977. Officer John C. Alexander and Officer Kenneth Petersen were on patrol in the police airplane when they crashed into a residential area of SW Fort Lauderdale on August 3, 1981. Officer Charles E. Bruce was involved in a police motorcycle crash which claimed his life on August 24, 1983. Detective Norman L. Eddy and Officer Frank A. Mastrangelo were returned from an out-of-town investigation when their police airplane went down in the Everglades. Motorcycle Officer David Brower died on December 29, 1994 from injuries received in a police Motorcycle accident. Officer Bryant H. Peney was shot and killed on January 6, 1996 by a suspicious person he stopped to investigate.
All of our fallen heros are memorialized on the Page Of Honor.