Capt. Dorris “Dee” Seibert, an assistant to the Wilton Manors police chief suspended for circulating racist e-mails, was named acting chief, even though similar e-mails were sent and received through her e-mail account as well.
Seibert’s appointment was announced just hours before Gov. Charlie Crist issued an order removing suspended Police Chief Richard E. Perez from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s coveted Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, which he chaired. “Richard Perez is hereby removed from the public office he has held, to wit: member of the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission,” Crist said in executive order 10-219 dated Sept. 23.
Among other things, the commission sets training standards and decides disciplinary actions for law enforcement officers statewide.
In his memo appointing Seibert acting chief, City Manager Joseph Gallegos wrote:
“You are hereby appointed Acting Chief of Police during the absence of Chief Richard Perez. Your appointment is planned for the dates of Monday, Sept. 20, 2010, until Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010. Please make an appointment with me to review my expectations during the period.”
The memo was dated Sept. 20, the same day Perez was placed on unpaid suspension for 30 days. Gallegos did not respond to questions about Seibert’s possible involvement in the e-mail scandal and what led to his decision to appoint her to the post on an acting basis.
The union that represents rank-and-file members of the department was not pleased to learn of Perez’s suspension and Seibert’s appointment and is considering protests in front of City Hall.
“We’re certainly disappointed. It’s totally inappropriate and if it were a rank-and-file person they clearly would have been given harsher punishment,” said Jeff Marano, a senior vice-president of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association.
“Putting Dee Seibert in charge is like putting the fox in the hen house, if not worse.”
“There is talk about some type of demonstration, but I don’t know where that’s at, but this certainly will have an impact on any decision,” Marano said. “Everybody gets funky e-mails from time to time but you delete them, especially if you’re in government. There is just no excuse.”
One e-mail that was sent from Siebert’s account dated April 27 is titled “Pics of Crowd at Searchlight, Nevada Tea Party.”
It contained photographs of people attending a Tea Party rally held in Searchlight, Nevada, on March 27. Many of those pictures show people holding signs, mostly of an insulting nature, of President Barack Obama and Democratic Party members.
“Take your socialism and shove it up your [picture of donkey],” states one poster being held by a man at the rally. “You can’t fix stupid, but you can vote it out.”
Another reads, “Pelosi is the White House’s new Monica,” an apparent reference to former President Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
One of the pictures in that e-mail sent from Seibert’s account shows a man holding sign that reads, “Got tar, need feathers and pitchfork.”
One other poster has a picture of an image of Obama defaced to make him appear as the Joker in the Batman movies.
The heading states: “Obama-Care aka The Ted Kennedy-Mary Jo Kopechne Health Care Act of 2009. Do it for Teddy – Extending the Monstrosity since 1969 – Despite Mary Jo.”
That poster referred to the late U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, who succumbed to brain cancer on Aug. 25, 2009, and the young woman who drowned in a car accident where Kennedy was the driver on the night of July 18, 1969. The car went off a bridge and crashed into a pond.
Kennedy survived but failed to report the accident and death until the next morning. Seibert’s appointment comes as fallout from the e-mail scandal mounts.
The 46-person Wilton Manors police department has only three black employees and at least one of them is alleging that, prior to being suspended, Perez asked them to contact the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to vouch for him.
That employee, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions, said he felt “pressured” and feared retribution if they did not comply. Perez could not be reached for comment.
The employee has met with NAACP officials over the alleged incident. Fort Lauderdale NAACP President Marsha Ellison has requested copies of the e-mails from city officials. Gallegos reacted to the alleged contact between Gallegos and the black officers by instructing Perez not to have any further contact with city employees during his suspension.
“Mr. Perez has been advised this afternoon regarding prohibition of contacting anyone here at the City,” Gallegos said Tuesday, Sept. 21 in an e-mail to South Florida Times.
Seibert is one of two captains in the department and is widely considered Perez’s second in command. Her e-mail account was among those receiving racist e-mails from Perez’s account and from Sgt. Peter Bigelsen’s account, including one that expressed disappointment that Obama was not killed during his inauguration.
“This came from a Marine's wife. It says it all: I sat, as did millions of other Americans, and watched as the government Under went [sic] a peaceful transition of power a year ago.
At first, I felt a swell of pride and patriotism while Barack Obama took his Oath of office,” states the email titled, “Confessions of Marine’s Wife” that was sent from Bigelsen’s account June 10 to Perez’s and Seibert’s accounts.
“However, all that pride quickly vanished as I later watched 21 Marines, In full dress uniform with rifles, Fire a 21-gun salute to the President.
It was then that I realized how far America's military had deteriorated. Every damn one of them missed the bastard,” the e-mail continued.
Efforts to reach Seibert and Bigelsen at their offices were unsuccessful and the department’s spokesman Sgt. Charles Howard did not return calls seeking comment.
Elgin Jones may be reached at EJones@SFLTimes.com
Pictured: Above, acting police chief Dorris "Dee" Seibert, below is police chief Richard E. Perez, and bottom is Sgt. Peter Bigelsen.