FORT LAUDERDALE – A police officer has been reassigned from the advisory board he was protecting after the board chairman filed a restraining order against him, accusing the officer of screaming at him.
Fort Lauderdale Police Sgt. Andy Pallen, head of the police department's Marine Patrol Division, is accused of bursting into the Thursday, June 3 meeting of the city’s Marine Advisory Board in a rage, screaming accusations at Board Chairman John Terrill.
“Another officer has been assigned to oversee the Marine Advisory Board until this is resolved,” police spokesman Sgt. Frank Sousa confirmed. “The city has not been served notice of the order and Andy Pallen will not be reassigned out of the Marine Patrol Division.”
Officers are assigned to advisory board meetings to maintain order, and to provide updates on pending issues.
Pallen could not be reached for comment. His union president said the allegations seem out of character for Pallen, who in the past has served as the department’s jovial spokesman.
“Mr. Terrill has been pushing to have him removed for years. Andy is an incredible officer and we stand by him one thousand percent,” said Jack Lokiensky, president of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) union.
Terrill's email to City Manager George Gretsas was also copied to the city’s mayor, city commissioners and other members of the advisory board.
“I feel my safety has been threatened by Sgt. Pallen and request that you provide police protection until my safety can be ensured both now and in the future,” Terrill wrote.
“Thank you for arranging a conference call with Chief [Frank] Adderley late last night and directing the Chief to ensure my safe passage home from the Marine Advisory Board Meeting. Chief [Frank] Adderley did meet with me and personally introduced me to an undercover officer who escorted me home,” he wrote.
According to sources, Terrill actually left city hall and went to a local bar after the board meeting, from which he called to request, and received, a police escort home.
The next day, Terrill filed the temporary restraining order in Domestic Violence Court at the Broward main courthouse.
A hearing on the order is scheduled to take place June 17, before Circuit Judge Michael G. Kaplan.
The restraining order and reassignment mark the latest dust up in an escalating series of tensions between Terrill and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department’s Marine Patrol Division, and Pallen in particular. The marine patrol has received criticism for citing operators of fuel-supply boats for leaks and fuel spills in waterways.
Pallen’s personnel file was not immediately available, but Lokiensky, the union president, said it is replete with commendations and no disciplinary action.
“This has become a personal issue with Terrill. He is obsessed with Andy, who is doing his job,” Lokiensky said. “He even complained the guy was not smiling and waving from the patrol boat.”
In an interview with a reporter, Terrill acknowledged that his employer, the Lauderdale Marine Center, filed a previous complaint, but he denied having any personal motivation for the complaints.
“This is obviously a big deal to me. What I did right from the get go is to document it. I sent my response to the elected officials and the board members, with the idea it would increase my potential safety,” Terrill explained. “There is a lot more to this, which will come out.”
Terrill said about 14 people consisting of board members, city staff and citizens witnessed the alleged tirade. In his email, he described Pallen as being in a “loud, shaking fit of rage.”
“It was so shocking to everybody,” Terrill said before decling to comment further. “Nobody said anything, except to move away from him.”
Photo Caption: Fort Lauderdale Police Sgt. Andy Pallen