With the resignation of Police Chief Charles Press, Village and its new leadership face a critical public safety challenge | New
Just weeks into his role as Key Biscayne Village Director, Steve Williamson already has an important and unexpected task ahead.
When Police Chief Charles Press walked into his office on Monday with his resignation letter in hand, it took Williams by surprise, though his emotions turned to empathy after “we both had a long and good conversation ”.
The press, quickly approaching 17 years as the city’s police chief, will retire “with much thought and emotion,” he wrote in his letter to Williamson, Mayor Mike Davey and to members of the municipal council.
In his letter, in which he listed many accomplishments during his time with the force, he also said his 24-hour hours put unnecessary stress on his family and oppose “negative attitudes.” towards him and his police force.
His resignation takes effect on July 2.
Press, 67, has led a staff of 36 for the approximately 13,000 residents of Key Biscayne. It has helped the island community to consistently remain at the top of many “safest cities” lists in the state and across the country.
“This guy spent 17 years in the village, spent 46 years in the police force and worked hard,” Williamson said. “At the same time he said to me, ‘I have young children and I want to spend time with them’, and that’s the empathic part of my emotions because I know (he) has done amazing things. with her family. “
“It’s a big loss for Key Biscayne,” said Mayor Davey, who has known the press for over 15 years, when he first took office. “I was a little surprised, but I understand his reasoning, the consequences for his family and everything. But he put in his time and worked incredibly hard, and I respect his decision. I wish I could have talked him out of it.
Lately, some community members have started to question Press’s commitment to the police force, especially since he took on two roles as acting village director during a nearly six-month process to hire. Williamson from a group of 52 candidates.
Earlier this year, council member Luis Lauredo led a charge, asking why some of the island’s laws weren’t fully enforced. And last week, another board member, Ignacio Segurola, questioned some regulations and lack of enforcement regarding golf carts.
But there has been a lot more praise from residents and council members.
Most recently, village police detectives arrested two Miami Beach teenagers in connection with a battery against an adult residing on Crandon Boulevard. Press, in a bid to quell a recent spike in juvenile delinquency, left Village Green stadium lights on longer on weekends and readjusted hours and placement of its staff so more patrols were visible at night.
In the first four months of this year, 12 minors were arrested, many of whom were involved in cases of stolen and / or vandalized golf carts, a topic of many recent council meetings.
Recent statistical comparisons with other cities show that Key Biscayne ranks 73.21% below the state average total crime rate and 72.19% below the national average total crime rate.
“As I reflect on nearly 17 years of service to the Village of Key Biscayne, I think of the many accomplishments our organization has enjoyed,” Press wrote in its resignation letter. “My first goal was to provide the department with accreditation, which we managed to do in my first year. Sixteen years later, we have achieved Excelsior status, which identifies us as the first percent of accredited departments that have maintained the highest standards and best practices, without fail. “
The press also reported that Key Biscayne had saved thousands of dollars in repairs and new purchases by instituting a fleet maintenance agreement with the City of Miami Beach, and he also found ways to cut costs by civilizing the Property. & Evidence Room, freeing a sworn officer to patrol. the community in the process. He was proud of his “strict budget,” a budget which he said was kept in the dark even during crisis situations.
He introduced the 12 hour shift on the island for patrols, which “allowed me to reduce the number of sergeants and add more officers to the community.”
The press pointed out in its letter that 98% of the current members of the police department were not part of his team when he arrived.
“Sometimes I had to lay off employees who did not ‘fit the mold or the expectations of the people of the village of Key Biscayne’,” he wrote.
He also introduced body-worn cameras in his department to “ensure the highest level of accountability.”
In addition, he developed an honor guard, which won recognition for the village, and a rapid response team, “preparing officers to react in the event of a potentially catastrophic situation”.
Among his tasks as acting village director was to organize the rapid collection of debris after Hurricane Irma, as well as to carry out “many unfinished projects”. He negotiated long-awaited employee contracts and even helped move Crandon Park Project 530 forward after 10 years of delays.
“To provide the above, my family has suffered at times,” Press wrote, regarding being contacted for answers and responses to issues 24 hours a day, “365 days a year,” even in cases of emotional problems such as a catastrophic injury to her daughter and the death of her parents 10 days apart.
“The current negative attitudes towards myself and my profession, while doing our best, have taken their toll,” he wrote.
Press, a graduate of Barry University, served a year as president of the Miami-Dade County Association of Chiefs of Police and spent over 29 years as deputy chief of police in the Miami-Dade County Police Department. Miami Beach, where in 1983 he was appointed an officer. of the year. In 2008, he was inducted into the Miami-Dade College Hall of Fame.
“… I wish our officers and civilians good luck for their future success,” Press wrote. “I also want the residents and leaders of the village to move forward together, without challenge, to truly prove that the key is truly an ‘island paradise.’ “
It was unclear whether he would continue to oversee the Chief Press Foundation, or whether the Sister City initiative he developed with Liberty City will remain intact.
For now, Williamson needs to think about his next move. Calling it an “important” decision, not an “urgent” one – so as not to make a hasty decision – Williamson has time.
“Well, the next step, obviously, is to hire someone,” he says. “I’m not ready to discuss it yet because we need to think about it. It’s a serious decision about who your police chief will be.
“We’re going to sit down and think about this. I’ll reach out to a few of my mentors and see how they hired a police chief and get a (clearer) idea.
Williamson did not disclose the reaction of council members when he broke the news to them on Monday afternoon.
“I’d rather let them speak for themselves,” he said, “but it was a professional conversation, and to all of them it was a bit of a surprise. They all supported me and realized it was a big challenge.
“But everyone, in their own words, said it would be a great loss, because he’s someone special, and they joined me (hoping) everyone will come together for a really nice sendoff. .
Mayor Davey certainly agreed that the press is well respected and someone who has been instrumental in keeping the island’s “Wow” factor alive.
“He’s just an amazing person,” he said. “He has always been engaged, always available. If I called him on a Saturday night, he would be there. He was 100% committed to his work and to (our residents). That is why we are a special and safer community. “