DAVIE – Offensive e-mails that have been circulated within the Wilton Manors police department have led to the police chief being put on hiatus from his teaching job at the police academy.
“Wilton Manors Police Chief Richard Perez is currently not on the teaching schedule of the Institute of Public Safety and will not be placed on the schedule until all outstanding issues have been resolved,” said Rivka Spiro, media relations specialist for Broward College, where the academy is housed.
The decision not to place Perez on the teaching schedule was made Saturday, Sept. 11, a day after the South Florida Times broke the story about the e-mails sent from Perez’s city e-mail account.
Perez could not be reached for comment and has not responded to phone calls and questions sent by e-mail. He has not indicated if he sent the controversial e-mails or if someone improperly accessed his account.
For several years, Perez has moonlighted at the college’s Institute of Public Safety, which includes the police academy. Perez is certified to teach by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, on whose board he also sits as chairman. He earned $32.50 per hour to teach several courses at the academy, including ethics.
One e-mail that was forwarded to top brass on Friday, July 23, 2010, from Perez’s account said, “A little boy said to his mother, ‘Mommy, how come I'm black and you're white.’ His mother replied, ‘Don't even go there, Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you're lucky you don't bark!’”
That e-mail is titled “Mom’s Memory” and it includes a photograph of a white woman holding hands with a young boy and walking near a pond, under the caption, “A Mother’s Love.”
It is prefaced with, “Normally I don't send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read it. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine. This is so beautiful.”
Dozens of other e-mails, some including racial slurs, a photo of nude woman and other distasteful comment directed towards President Barack Obama and members of the Democratic Party have been circulated through the department from Perez’s e-mail account among his top assistants.
One of those e-mails had an audio recording attached, entitled, ‘Good Mornin Mam,’ which states:
“Good moan’ in mam. Isn’t it a lovely moan’ in,” greets a man to a white woman in a classic minstrel-style, slapstick tone.
The white woman responds, “Up yours N—-r!”
Broward College is a public university, consisting of four campuses and six learning centers located throughout Broward County. The college also has study centers in Ecuador, Spain and Singapore. The dean of the police academy where Perez taught was quick to respond to the controversy.
“We teach all of our trainees that once they enter the law enforcement profession their core responsibility is to provide the highest level of professionalism and service to the communities they serve, and this is reinforced daily by all of our staff,” Linda Wood, dean of the Institute of Public Safety and director of the Police Academy wrote in an email sent to the South Florida Times over the weekend.
“We have no tolerance for disrespect towards any member of the community.”
Wilton Manors City Manager Joseph Gallegos spent the weekend trying to complete a review by the city of the e-mail controversy prior to this Tuesday’s city commission meeting. At least one elected official has expressed alarm over the e-mails.
“I am deeply concerned about allegations regarding inappropriate e-mails circulated by employees of the City of Wilton Manors Police Department. Such emails specifically would violate the City’s written communications policies,” Wilton Manors Mayor Gary Resnick wrote in an e-mail sent to South Florida Times.
“In addition, they tarnish the City’s well-earned reputation for diversity and tolerance. At my request, the Wilton Manors City Manager has begun an investigation into the allegations, with the assistance of the City Attorney.”
City officials have not said how long their review will take. Broward College’s action was decisive.
“Broward College hosts a rich diversity of students and staff in all of its programs and holds a zero tolerance policy towards any kind of discriminatory remarks,” college spokesperson Spiro said.
Pictured Above: Wilton Manors Police Chief Richard E. Perez. Below, is Linda Wood, dean of Broward College's Institute of Public Safety.