The city of Fort Lauderdale has just appointed its first black police chief, Frank Adderley, a 28-year veteran of the department. His appointment comes as the agency struggles with low morale, distrust of city management and historically poor relations with the minority community. He was appointed chief after Bruce Roberts abruptly stepped down. Adderley is a highly commended officer who has been a pioneer at the department, having been its first black captain, major and assistant chief.
“I am honored and very excited for the opportunity to lead the dedicated men and women of this department, and to serve the people of this community,” Adderley, 46, said in a statement released by the city.
Roberts decided to leave Wednesday in part due to brutal union contract negotiations and what he called “micromanaging” by the city manager’s office. Roberts had initially planned to stay for 90 days, but voluntarily resigned Thursday.
According to the Sun Sentinel, union contract negotiations have soured relations between rank-and-file members and city management in recent months. Roberts cited those negotiations in his letter of resignation and accused Gretsas of trying to punish union leadership and delaying the purchase of safety equipment. Gretsas responded that Roberts was too close to the union.
The Sun Sentinel said that Adderley is a native of Fort Lauderdale who grew up in the neighborhoods where the department has struggled to establish good relations. He graduated from Stranahan High School in 1980 and joined the police department that year. Since then, he’s held nearly every position at the department as he worked his way up the chain of command.
Adderley lives in Plantation. City officials said he doesn’t need to move into the city because he was promoted from within the agency. In 2006, after a spate of fatal police shootings in the city’s northwest section, Adderley helped to sooth relations with the historically poor, black neighborhoods. His promotion Thursday brought measured applause from black residents and leaders, I am sure in part due to a mistrust of the police department.
So, here’s a brother doing the right thing and I would like to salute him on his promotion and wish him all the best! Many feel that he will bring a fresh start to policing despite tensions between the black community and the police department. On a serious note, there seems to be a culture in the police departments across the United States that it is okay to shoot first and worry later. As Markel Hutchins, who is running for the 2nd Congressional seat against civil rights stalwart John Lewis has said, there needs to be a massive effort on the federal level to change the the way the police departments operate in this country. All too often we hear of police brutality and the ensuing cover-up, as evidenced from Sean Bell, the three men in Philadelphia, Kathryn Johnston of Atlanta who was fatally shot by police in a botched raid, as countless others. The task before Adderley is a daunting one, but to echo Markel Hutchins, in a recent interview I did with him (which I will put on the blog shortly), all change has to come from the federal and state levels. I echo his sentiments that the police department has to see that it needs to work with the community, not in an adversarial manner, to get things done. Many blacks are naturally distrustful of the police because of prior experience. Just my thoughts, you be the judge…..