WILTON MANORS- Richard E. Perez, chief of the Wilton Manors Police Department has been suspended over the circulation of offensive emails from his city computer.
Wilton Manors city manager Joseph Gallegos made the announcement today. Perez will start serving the 30-day suspension without pay on Monday, Sept. 20.
Perez had come under fire over the emails, some of which contained nudity, a racial slur and more.
“Due to the derogatory, culturally insensitive and racially charged content of the emails, the City Manager has imposed the maximum for Group III offenses, outside of immediate separation, and will suspend the Chief of Police for 30 days without pay, starting on Monday, September 20,” wrote Gallegos in a statement released Thursday, Sept. 17. “During that time, the Chief will be required to undergo racial and cultural sensitivity training and complete an effective management development course identified by the City’s Human Resources Director. Any failure to complete the recommended regimen will be cause for immediate separation.”
Perez was also placed on hiatus from his teaching job at Broward College’s Institute of Public Safety, which includes the police academy.
One e-mail that was forwarded to top brass within the police department 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!’”
Another email expressed regret that President Barack 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 an email titled, “Confessions of Marine’s Wife” that was sent from the account of Sgt. Peter “Pete” Bigelsen June 10 to Perez and Captain Dorris “Dee” Seibert, the department’s second highest ranking officer behind Perez.
“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.”
City officials performed a review of a 16-week period from April 20 through August 11, 2010. That review began after a South Florida Times report first revealed that offensive emails were being distributed from and around the city’s police department.
According to Gallegos' statement: "Today, the City Manager and City Attorney, in accordance with City procedures, conducted a pre-determination hearing with Chief Perez, prior to administration of discipline or separation. During the hearing, Chief Perez apologized for his conduct, admitted that he had “no excuses” for his actions, and if given an opportunity would never repeat the violations and would work diligently to re-build the community’s trust."
Pictured: Chief Richard E. Perez, above, city manager Joseph Gallegos