The Future of Policing: Relationships


Our national dialogue is fraught.

It’s like a game of gotcha.
And it leads absolutely nowhere.
Endless circular arguments that leave us angry and frustrated.
The latest example is the so-called debate over the term “Defund The Police.”
We don’t need too. Nor should we.
But we do need to invest in neglected communities. It’s not a zero sum game. We can have good police departments and we can set aside money for communities that need our help. This is not an either or choice. We can do both. And we can help our police departments by re-imagining their role in society.
 Perhaps, we are asking our police departments to do too much.
A few years ago, the Dallas Police Chief touched on this notion in a now famous video in which he lamented that every single societal issue ended up at his doorstep.
If you have a stray dog problem, ask the cops to deal with it.
Homelessness, opioid addiction, mental health issues ,domestic violence—-just put the cops on it.
Well, perhaps that’s not the best approach.
First, we never do get at the root cause of these problems and secondly when things escalate it can get end badly for everyone.

Instead, we can invest in mental health professionals, case workers, counselors and others who can assist the police in keeping our communities from descending into places of hopelessness and despair.

A few years back, the Delray Beach Police Department hired a social worker to help with a raging opioid crisis among other issues. I would argue we need more of that.
We don’t have to look far to see an example of how a department can reform and make a lasting difference. We can look to our very own police department.

Thirty years ago, the biggest issue in town was the poor relationship between citizens of neglected neighborhoods and their police department.
Things began to turn around with the introduction of community policing first introduced by interim Police Chief Rick Lincoln and taken to an amazing level by Chief Rick Overman who was hired in 1991 and given the mandate to turn things around.
Chief Overman came from Orlando and he was a change agent.
He was also a charismatic visionary who talked a good game, but played a better one.
He rolled out a blizzard of programs: Citizen Police Academies, outreach to the large Haitian community, problem oriented policing projects to get at the root of issues and a volunteer program that at its zenith numbered over 1,000 residents who acted as the departments eyes and ears.

He broke the city into zones and tasked officers to get out of their cars and into the neighborhoods where they could develop relationships and trust.
The department worked with MAD DADS, a grassroots organization that walked the streets to reclaim neighborhoods from drug dealers.
Chief Overman initiated bike patrols, opened police substations and invited citizens into the department to see how it worked.
There were efforts to have officers mentor local kids, there were midnight basketball leagues, barbecues, self defense classes, toy drives, DARE classes in local schools to keep kids away from drugs and much more.
Some of it lasted. Some of it went away.
But all of it was good.
Because the focus was relationship and community building.
The emphasis was on communication and building trust.
Chief Overman knew that in his line of work it wasn’t a matter of if something would go wrong during one of the thousands of police/community interactions that occur every year in a complex city such as Delray ,it was a matter of when.
He wanted his city and his department to be ready. He built capital. He built relationships.
He built a reservoir of good will.
He also raised standards for hiring officers insisting on a college degree, controversial at the time. But he believed that the more education an officer had, the less likely he or she was to make mistakes—especially violent ones. It was a position backed by research.
Within a relatively short amount of time, the police department went from being perceived as a huge liability to being arguably the city’s biggest strength.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. The Delray Beach Police Department made it possible for our city to have a renaissance.
People won’t invest—their time or their money—unless they feel safe.
The example set by the police flowed to every department in the city.
The whole city became oriented toward community building. That meant town hall meetings, visioning exercises, resident academies, youth councils, community dinners, summer programs, after school “Beacon” programs, partnerships with non-profits and much more.
And guess what? It worked.
It’s expensive and time consuming. But…failing to engage your community is a lot more expensive.

A few years back, it became fashionable to trash the past history of this town.
It was a foolish decision driven by petty personal feuds and ego.
But that ruinous mindset  has sure done a lot of damage. It has led to the dysfunction and turnover at City Hall, which ought to alarm and concern us all because it leaves this community weaker and vulnerable.
We stopped doing many of the things mentioned above. We abandoned strategies that built a city and could have done a lot more had that ethos continued.
We even had senior city staff question the investment in some of the programs mentioned above. That’s their right.
But their conclusions were so wrong.
Those investments were not wasted, they enriched lives, created opportunities and built something of value—a community.
I am grateful that our Police Department has maintained good relations with our community.
Chief Javaro Sims has led admirably during this difficult time. We have some  very special officers.
Personally, I’d like to see a recommitment to community policing complete with a plan and a budget. It’s money well spent.
Officers need to know the people they protect and serve. Our city’s children need to know and trust officers.
I’d also like to see efforts made to grow the capacity of local leaders and organizations. We need more leaders and we need to support those we have.
Local government can play an important role in these efforts.
Bring back visioning. Bring back Charettes. Bring back community dinners. Bring back the effort to improve race relations.
Get serious about economic development and capacity building so when development occurs—locals benefit.
We had the playbook. Then we tossed it. For what?
But my friends that play book—well it still works. Dust it off, freshen it up and you’ll see magic happen.

We Can Do This

I live in what I would consider to be a  safe neighborhood.

We’ve lived in Delray Lakes for almost 14 years and we absolutely love it. We have wonderful neighbors and our location puts us minutes to downtown and minutes to I-95. We love living here and I often recommend—and will continue to recommend—to friends and acquaintances that they take a look at Delray Lakes if they are considering a move and want to live in a warm, friendly and convenient neighborhood.

It has been a great neighborhood to raise kids and now it’s a great neighborhood to be (almost) empty-nesters.

But in recent weeks, there have been a series of thefts out of cars. It is unsettling and it has rattled our happy little spot.

It’s a horrible feeling to be victimized. It’s a violation and it spurs both fear and anger.

My neighborhood is not alone.

Unfortunately, crime—especially property crime is an issue in our city.

According to a semi-annual report released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Delray experienced a 17.5 percent increase in the number of property thefts in the first six months of 2016 compared to 2015. There was an 8 percent increase in burglaries and a 24 percent increase in stolen vehicles, according to the stats.

In June 2016 alone, the city logged 108 auto burglaries, long time police officers can’t remember the last time they even came close to 100.

So clearly, there’s an issue. That’s the bad news.

Here’s the good news.

Fortunately, this city has experience in dealing with all sorts of challenges and we should be confident in our ability to overcome any and all difficulties.

We have a terrific police department.

We have had one for a long time now and it has made a profound difference in our city’s fortunes and quality of life. It starts with leadership and the team that our chief has built. Rest assured, he is steeped in how to diagnose a problem and deploy resources to mitigate whatever is thrown our way. Here’s how I know and why I have confidence.

I’ve known Chief Jeff Goldman ever since he was a very young police officer. When I was a young reporter, I often rode with Chief Goldman who was assigned to the “tact team” in the late 80s. The tact team was an elite group of officers who were tasked with fighting a raging crack cocaine epidemic that was sweeping the nation and our city at that time. Parts of our city were literally open air drug markets and people lived in fear.

When you’re wrong and impressionable, there are images that you see that simply won’t leave you. I was 22-23 when I first started riding along with our officers and I followed them into houses that were taken over by drug dealers, addicts and prostitutes. It was the era of AIDS and HIV and we saw people who were literally wasting away from drugs and addiction. We also saw senior citizens and others shaking in fear at the conditions on their block and more than a few whose homes were literally invaded by unwanted people who lived there and just took things under threats of violence.

The department did a great job dealing with those challenges in the late 80s and 90s.

But they didn’t do it alone. It was a team effort and the community was a part of the battle. MAD DADS formed and began doing drug vigils and walks through neighborhoods alongside officers confronting drug dealers and customers many of whom would drive into neighborhoods from other cities to buy drugs.

Community policing took root encouraging officers to get out of their cars and engage with the people they were sworn to protect and serve. The effort paid dividends—relationships formed, trust was built and as a result more information was shared enabling law enforcement to be more effective.

All of this was combined with stellar investigative work and specialty (sometimes multiagency) task forces that removed a lot of bad players from the community.

Citizen police academies were held, inviting the community inside to learn how the department functioned and graduates were funneled into a variety of citizen volunteer patrols that added more eyes and ears to the department.

At its height, over 1,200 volunteers were active, a whopping total in a city that was much smaller back then in terms of population. Delaire and The Hamlet stepped up and held fundraising golf tournaments every year to pay for non-budgeted equipment for police and firefighters. They donated literally hundreds of thousands of dollars over time and it made a big difference.

At City Hall, code enforcement, planning, the building department, parks, the CRA and other entities were involved supporting efforts to fix blight, crack down on nuisance properties, organize neighborhoods and encourage investment which does a lot to make a city safer. They worked together. A lively, active city tends to be a safer city. It really does take a village.

And it really, truly, seriously begins with safety. Jeff Goldman and his officers know this.

If people don’t feel safe in your city—they will not want to live there, work there or spend their leisure time in your community. They won’t want to invest either. Investment and belief run side by side. You can’t have one without the other and people need to believe in your city’s future if they are going to make a bet on your town.

So what can we do to make Delray Beach safer?

First, it’s a mindset.

The Police Department can’t do it alone. They need volunteers and vigilant citizens to be additional eyes and ears.

Second, we need to look at the issue of crime and safety holistically. We all know there are factors driving property crime that are very difficult to deal with.

Heroin and substance abuse disorder is a national scourge and Delray is suffering more than its fair share of problems associated with this very tragic plague. Its acute here; a very big issue.

Our officers and paramedics are dealing with a lot these days—literally fishing bodies out of bushes and having to resuscitate people who have overdosed. It takes a toll.

I’m happy to see the department invest in a social workers position to assist with what has become a serious humanitarian crisis.

But I think the investment will need to be even greater if we are to truly figure out how to mitigate the crisis. I was hoping—as were many others—that the city would find a way to hire someone to run what has become a highly effective Drug Task Force. Yes, I know it’s an expense. But there are certain things you can’t afford not to do. (Take a look at the city’s expenses for consultants and you’ll see where the money could come from).

The Drug Task Force, run by volunteers has done a great job of bringing most if not all of the players together so they can share intelligence, tactics, conditions on the ground and frankly so they can give each other some moral support because dealing with this epidemic is like drinking from a fire hose. And for every hard fought victory there is a tidal wave of tough news.

I’ve had the good fortune to attend meetings of the Task Force and I see cities, businesses, responsible providers, hospitals, prosecutors and legislators at the table. There’s value in that—and you can literally see collaboration flower in the room.

They are making a difference on our most pressing issue.

Obviously, the issue of heroin and the presence of irresponsible operators in our community create serious safety and exploitation issues.

The recent “joint” letter from the departments of Justice and Housing and Urban Development was celebrated as a breakthrough by area politicians. But I’ve seen some other opinions that question whether it will actually give cities the ability to clean up the situation. Many believe it will lead to litigation—we’ll see soon enough.

So we have work cut out for us. I think we can learn a lesson from the days of blight and crack cocaine—a combination of traditional and community policing, code enforcement, voluntarism, neighborhood engagement, private sector investment, urban design and collaboration can and will turn the tide over time. But it takes time, money and effort. It’s a commitment. We have an opportunity to set an example for the nation by raising the level of conversation on the issue, recognizing the seriousness of the problem but also exhibiting some compassion for the people suffering and the good operators trying to save their lives. As for the bad operators—crack down and crack down hard. Lives are at stake. So is our city.

We’ve been there before with crack cocaine and saw conditions improve dramatically. We can do it again.

We have to.

Remembering A Special Friend

Former Chief Overman, the late, great Officer Johnny Pun and Skip Brown.

Former Chief Overman, the late, great Officer Johnny Pun and Skip Brown.

“The most beautiful people I have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep, loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” Elizabeth Kubler Ross.

That has to be one of my very favorite quotes.

If you consider those you love and admire, the beautiful people in your life, you will find that quote to be true. As much as we wish nothing but wine and roses for our loved ones, the reality is in every life there will be challenges and heartbreaks.

Those who manage to find their way out of the depths and look out for others are special indeed.

I know more than a few of these people and they have been a blessing to me and my family and a gift to our community.

About two weeks ago, one of the prime examples of the quote above reached out to me with a wonderful message of friendship. Skip Brown is a retired Delray Beach Police Officer who is living in Alabama these days with his lovely wife, Cheryl.

Skip was challenged by Cheryl to reach out to important people in his life and let them know how much they have meant to his life. The contents of that conversation are private and personal, but I wanted to share the concept of reaching out to five key people in your life while you still can and while they are still around. And I wanted to share some thoughts about Skip and his generation of police officers who meant so much to Delray Beach.

First, what a powerful idea it is to think about the key people in your life and how and why they made such an impact.

To share those feelings with those cherished people is a powerful act; it enriches both the messenger and the recipient. I got Skip’s call during a particularly stressful week, the funny part is I know longer remember what I was so stressed about, which is a lesson in itself. This too shall pass, they say; and most of the time that’s right. But Skip’s phone call instantly lifted my spirits and his “gift” (and that’s what it was) has stayed with me and will stay with me.

It’s nice to know you matter to people you care about. It’s nice to know that your friendship has made a difference in a great man’s life.

I met Skip when I was a kid in my early 20s. He was a big, very big and burly cop and I was a very young and naïve reporter. Skip was gruff, but always fair and honest and I appreciated his willingness to take some time and teach me about Delray and about life.

He had a world of experience when I met him. Years on road patrol and time in the jungles of Vietnam. I came from suburban Long Island from a very stable household and had seen very little, he had driven a truck before becoming a police officer and seen an awful lot, emphasis on awful.

On the surface we didn’t have much in common. But I was fascinated by Delray and Skip was a big part of an effort to make the city safer. The people who were involved at that time were in the midst of building something very special.

When I met him, Skip was a K-9 officer. He had a huge German Shepherd named Rambo who was a local legend. Later, he would have a wonderful K-9 named Olk, who died too soon, in front of Skip one day before work. Skip loved his dogs and his birds and my new puppy Magnum, a goofy golden retriever who reminded him of the dog on the Bush’s Baked Beans commercial.

I lived around the block from Skip and we spent time at each other’s homes—well driveways mostly– talking into the wee hours of the night about everything Delray.

Skip and several other K-9 officers at the time, including Phil Dorfman, Will McCollum and Geoff Williams, did a lot of community outreach in those days taking the dogs to schools and events. Those kind of efforts along with D.A.R.E. programs and community policing did much to change the perception of the Delray Beach Police Department.

I’ve said often and will continue to emphasize that Delray’s revitalization was made possible by the Delray Beach Police Department. Skip and many other officers are the unsung heroes of Delray and their efforts were tireless, authentic and in-depth.

Skip was at the forefront of many of these efforts, leaving K-9 and becoming the department’s Volunteer Coordinator which at the time had well over 1,000 volunteers –an astounding number for a city our size. The program won international recognition with news stories on CNN and other national outlets, chapters in scholarly books and even a visit from President Bush, Governor Bush and Rudy Guiliani after 9-11. Former Massachusetts Governor and 1988 Democratic Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, who used to spend winters in Delray, became a huge fan of the department, riding along with officers and gathering information for courses he taught at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

I can go on. But the most important takeaways are the relationships that were built as a result of these efforts. They made the whole difference: instead of being fearful of police, people in troubled neighborhoods opened up about their problems and worked with officers to solve issues. On a personal level, I saw a lot of friendships develop. Skip was particularly good at this. Many of his volunteers were senior citizens, members of the “greatest generation” who fought in World War II. Skip respected them and they returned his loyalty with service and devotion to the department and the city. When they got sick, he was there by their side. He spent many a sleepless night in a hospital or hospice and always tended to family members in their time of need and beyond.

The department also reached out to the Haitian community, starting Citizens Police Academies for Creole speaking residents in a successful effort to break down barriers. Skip taught at the academy and recruited volunteers forming a nationally recognized Haitian Roving Patrol, which was part of an All America City effort.

The volunteer program served as the department’s eyes and ears and the volunteers were committed to the department and the city giving hours of their time to training and patrols.

The chief at the time, Rick Overman, was the architect and quite simply a transformational leader. But while Overman was a master strategist, his greatest strength was recognizing and empowering talented employees and letting them soar. Skip was one of those guys. And he soared. So did the city.

The officers I met during that era, the late 80s, were a very interesting group of characters. Some were larger than life personalities. There was talent at just about every position; magnificent detectives, experts on community policing, brave undercover officers, tough as nails Tact Team officers, a stellar K-9 unit and officers who specialized in what is called problem oriented policing; using a variety of resources to get at the root of issues.

But Chief Overman knew he could not tackle the city’s challenges on his own. His department and his officers needed the community and he became a magnet for involvement. Skip and many others were extensions of that philosophy—they challenged residents to get involved and to take ownership of their streets, neighborhood and city. What resulted was a partnership, relationships and trust.

Skip was a builder of those ideals. Every day he sought to partner, promote and build relationships.

They were special times and Skip was made for the job.

I’m pleased to see another product of that era, Chief Jeff Goldman, take a new generation of officers and have them focus on community and relationships. It works. It truly does.

With headlines all across America questioning the relationship between police and communities, it’s comforting to know that we have the right philosophy in place. Yes, it costs money to attract and retain talent, but it will cost you a whole lot more if you fail to build a department that protects and serves with integrity and distinction.

I hope you’ll “do like Skip” and call those special people in your life. It’s all about paying it forward. And I hope we invest in the men and women who protect and serve us. If we don’t, we risk it all.

 

 

Adventures in Local Politics

Cross one item off the bucket list

Cross one item off the bucket list

I wrote a book.
It took me years to finish and I must have started and stopped 100 times but I got it done. Finally.
“Adventures in Local Politics” is a personal story but it’s also the book I was looking for during my seven years as an elected official in Delray Beach.
The shelves are pretty bare when it comes to books on what local politics are really like. Sure, there are plenty of books written by “big city” mayors but most of America is not like New York, Chicago or Boston.
Elected officials in small cities face far different issues than their big city brethren. But the issues are complex nonetheless and personal too.

And if local officials choose to make their terms about something other than playing dodgeball with the tough issues, they can actually make a positive and lasting difference in their communities.
The commissioners I served with called it moving the “big rocks”; a concept we have turned to frequently on this blog.

And in our case, the big rocks  meant tackling attrition and retention issues in our police and fire departments, trying to improve race relations, crafting a downtown master plan, passing a parks bond, moving the library to a more central location (and freeing the old site up for meaningful redevelopment), creating a community land trust, wrestling with workforce housing, passing a parks bond and re-envisioning culture, Congress Avenue and the four corners of Military Trail and West Atlantic Avenue. There was more: beautifying Pineapple Grove, passing and implementing the southwest plan, moving the high school, building a warm and entrepreneurial culture at city hall, revamping our historic preservation rules and encouraging downtown housing while improving communication with our stakeholders.
Am I bragging?

You bet I am. I’m very proud of the team and the hundreds of residents and business owners who invested their time, talent and money to move a city forward. We inherited a great hand from our predecessors and did our best to move the ball forward.
Did we get it all right?

Not on your life.

Did we make mistakes? Yep, a whole bunch. But we got a lot right too.

And I would put our city’s accomplishments up against any city in our region and beyond. We have built a great city. Not a perfect city, but despite our myriad challenges and problems we have an awful lot to be grateful for and our civic pride is well placed.
My purpose in delineating some of the big rocks is to point out the incredible opportunity local officials have if they are willing to seize the moment. If they have vision, courage and the ability to collaborate with their stakeholders and motivate their staff and affiliated agencies and partners they can make a difference.
My book speaks to this opportunity. So while it captures my personal experiences, it has universal themes as well. Such as: Community policing works, but it has to be authentic and a forever commitment. New urbanism principles work if you have the courage to educate residents and design places for people not cars. Community visioning works if you are serious about engaging your community and work hard to bring new voices to the table.
It felt good to finally finish the book and it’s gratifying to speak to local groups about some of the “adventures.”
Local government is the government closest to the people. Washington is broken, maybe hopelessly so (but I remain optimistic). Tallahassee is remote and partisan. Our hometowns are where we can make a difference. But it’s a choice: major in the minor or play dodgeball or move the big rocks.
I’m looking for those willing to take risks and build. I’m looking for uniters not dividers. We have enough of that horror in Congress.
The big rocks are all around. And they are the most fun to move.

Adventures in Local Politics is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com. If you’d like to schedule a talk or raise funds for your group, please email us at perlmanjeff@gmail.com. Portions of the sale of Adventures in Local Politics can be donated to your charity of choice.

10 Years Gone

forever

Today marks 10 years since the death of Jerrod Miller.

Today also marks the anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death in Sanford, Florida.

After witnessing the protests in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City this year, I am grateful that we were able to keep the peace in Delray Beach in 2005. That we were able to do so does not mean that the shooting did not cause searing pain in our community, it most assuredly did. And still does.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of Jerrod and his family. He was the same age as my daughter when he died and his loss resonated with my family in a very personal and deep way. I often see his face in dreams and I still pray for him and his family.

I’m often asked why we didn’t spiral out of control when Jerrod, 15, was shot by an off-duty rookie police officer while driving a car outside a school dance at the Delray Full Service Center.

There is no short or simple answer to that question, I’m just grateful that we were able to grieve and communicate in a way that did not tear us apart or hurt others.

There is no playbook to turn too when tragedies like this occur. But there are certain values that communities can embrace  that can help when tragedies occur.

Former Police Chief Rick Overman used to talk about building a reservoir of goodwill in the community. He would tell me and others that in his line of work, it was not a matter of  if bad things would happen, but a matter of when. He wanted his department –and his city– to have a reservoir of good will to draw upon when tragedy would strike.

So community policing is not just a feel good PR exercise. It’s an effective strategy for officers to connect with the people they are sworn to protect and serve. Relationships between law enforcement and communities are critical. If you don’t have a good one, all bets are off when bad things happen and they always happen.

We tend to focus on pensions and wages when we talk about police these days. But the plain truth of the matter is we would not have the Delray that we know and most of us love if we did not have a very, very good and effective police department. In order for people to invest and take risks on businesses, development projects or even buying a home in a community they first have to feel safe.

The Delray Police Department made our success possible. That is not to say that we don’t have problems: we do. We suffer from too much crime, drug addiction and other immense challenges. And this is not to say that we have a perfect PD. But make no mistake, this not an easy place to be a police officer and we have been blessed with some great ones.

As a result, today I feel safe downtown. And when I moved here I didn’t.

Community policing,, traditional law enforcement, great detective work and special programs such as Kids and Cops, Toy Drives etc., helped us enormously in the run up to and in the aftermath of Feb. 26. 2005. So did personal relationships between officers and community leaders and between elected officials and members of the community.

I was blessed to have served with a very good city commission. We got along. What a concept.

They supported me and you need that support;  because when you sit in the mayor’s chair during shootings and hurricanes the buck stops with you. It can be a lonely and overwhelming job but it helps to know that people have your back. It’s not all ribbon cuttings and chicken dinners.

But you can’t be effective on your own. You need a team. The entire commission and many key people on city staff stepped up and kept the lines of communication with the community open. Commissioner Alberta McCarthy especially–did yeoman’s work during this critical time.

So today, on the 10th anniversary of a very sad day in Delray, I remember Jerrod and his family. And I pray for our city and for all those who live here and all those who protect and serve.

 

Jeff Goldman has been named Delray's new chief.

Jeff Goldman has been named Delray’s new chief.

Delray Beach has a new police chief.

 Jeff Goldman has been selected Chief and will assume the position September 1.

The position became available upon the retirement announcement of Police Chief Anthony Strianese.  Chief Strianese will be retiring effective August 31, 2014, after twenty-five years of dedicated service.

 Assistant Chief Goldman has served in his current position since 2011.  He is a seasoned and educated law enforcement executive with over twenty-five years of progressive urban policing experience.  Hired by the City in 1989, he rose through the ranks of the command staff and has led several divisions including Community Patrol, Criminal Investigations, Support Services and SWAT.  Assistant Chief Goldman’s diverse experience in these divisions, combined with 2,000+ hours of law enforcement leadership and managerial training/education, have provided him with an extensive working knowledge of current policing techniques in addition to a deep knowledge of the community and the department.

Assistant Chief Goldman attended Florida International University where he earned a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice.  He also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Columbia Southern University.  In addition, he is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the Senior Management Institute for Police (sponsored by the Police Executive Research Forum in conjunction with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University).

Assistant Chief Goldman’s professional affiliations include the FBI National Academy Association, Police Executive Research Forum, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Florida Police Chiefs Association and Palm Beach County Association of Chiefs of Police.  He is also a board member of Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA) and is a past president and current member of the Delray Beach Sunrise Kiwanis Club.

 I first met Assistant Chief Goldman during his rookie year at the department. I was a reporter for the Delray Times and covered local government and the police beat. A year or so later, I rode along with Jeff when he was a member of the department’s tactical team.

 Delray Beach was a very different city back in the late 80s and early 90s. The city was swept up in the crack cocaine epidemic and certain neighborhoods in Delray were particularly hard hit. In fact, some were open air drug markets with young kids sitting on milk crates or riding bikes through the streets serving as look outs for drug dealers. The tact team was formed to combat street level drugs and the officers assigned to the team were often thrust into very dangerous situations.

 Back in those days, West Atlantic Avenue just east of the Interstate was marred by shuttered businesses and lots of loitering.
The Delray Beach Police Department had its share of issues in those days, but considerable reform was accomplished in the 90s under the leadership of then Chief Rick Overman, who came from Orlando and ushered in an era of community policing, volunteering, citizen engagement and outreach. The department’s success helped to make it safe for private investment to occur downtown (which now stretches from I-95 to the A1A)  and in neighborhoods once written off. It was a remarkable turnaround that we shouldn’t forget, marked by literally a few thousand volunteers, citizen police academies, lots of dialogue, and strategic investments in not only the neighborhood but in the Police Department itself.

Soon to be chief Goldman is a product of that culture and saw first hand what a strong department working alongside citizens can accomplish.
Here’s hoping we’re entering another golden era. We have challenges galore, but it all begins and ends with people. Put the right ones in place and magic happens.

http://yourdelrayboca.com/chief/