WILTON MANORS – Offensive e-mails have been regularly circulated in the Wilton Manors police department, a South Florida Times investigation has found. The forbidden practice is not limited to low-level employees; it reaches all way to the top of the department.
One e-mail that was forwarded to top brass on Friday, July 23, 2010, from Chief Richard E. Perez’s account read:
“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 walking near a pond with a young boy holding hands, 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, photos of nude women and other insults directed towards President Barack Obama have been circulated through the department from Perez’s e-mail account among his top assistants.
Perez did not return calls seeking comment about whether he sent the e-mails or if someone improperly accessed his account, but his standards referred to in the “Mom’s Memory” e-mail appear to be reflected in an internal police department memorandum.
“All personnel are reminded that the use of City of Wilton Manors Police Department equipment for personal use is prohibited,” reads a Feb. 2, 2007, internal memo Perez issued to police department employees on the subject. “E-mails that use abusive or insulting language towards members of the department are unacceptable and shall not be tolerated.”
A review of city documents shows Perez’s e-mail account regularly exchanged e-mails with his command staff that included jokes and derogatory information targeting the homeless, blacks, members of the Democratic Party and others.
Another e-mail distributed from Perez’s account is titled, “Math Class,” in the form of math questions intended to belittle math courses being taught in inner city schools.
“Dwayne pimps 3 ho's. If the price is $85 per trick, how many tricks per day must each ho turn to support Dwayne's $800 per day Crack habit?” reads that e-mail. It includes nine other questions depicting similarly derogatory situations.
In addition to Perez’ memo, Wilton Manors personnel policies expressly prohibit the use of city computers for political activity and the distribution of racist or offensive materials.
“It is this City policy that the use of City’s computer and electronic systems to transmit any derogatory language, whether racial, sexual, or otherwise, is unacceptable conduct and will not be tolerated,” reads a section of its personnel rules.
Many of the e-mails contain language that is too graphic for publication and are generally of an insulting nature. One email sent from Perez’s account called Arabs “camel shaggers” and referred to connecting the wet testicles of “rag heads” to a battery. Some included jokes involving the N-word, and expressions of support for political positions.
City Manager Joseph Gallegos could not be reached for comment.
This is not the first time Wilton Manors has been confronted with employees distributing offensive e-mails out of city hall.
OTHER EMAIL ISSUES
Former Assistant Community Services Director Ann Barnes circulated a racist e-mail from city hall, titled, “Proud To Be White: Somebody Finally Said It,” on May 6, 2008.
“Everyone in the United States has privileges except the White race. They are the majority that made the U.S. what it is,” the email proclaimed. “Now look what it has become!”
“You rob us, carjack us, and shoot at us. But, when a white police officer shoots a black gang member or beats up a black drug-dealer who is running from the LAW and posing a threat to ALL of society… You call him racist.”
That e-mail went on to smear Arabs, Hispanics, Jews, and other ethnic groups with racial slurs.
“This email is not putting anyone down. It’s a desperate attempt to keep what we have earned, not been given. I’ve passed this on, now please do your part,” the e-mail said.
Barnes was initially verbally reprimanded but was subsequently suspended with pay and finally negotiated an early retirement.
At that time, city officials asserted there would be no tolerance of employees engaging in racist or offensive conduct of any kind, including through the distribution of emails.
They have not commented, however, on this latest incident involving the police department.
Elgin Jones may be reached at EJones@SFLTimes.com
Pictured Above: Wilton Manors Police Chief Richard E. Perez