Remembering Chief Strianese

Chief Strianese

Delray Beach lost a truly good man last week; someone who made a real and lasting difference.

Retired Police Chief Anthony Strianese passed away April 12. He was only 61 years old.

Chief Strianese started his career in Delray Beach on June 12, 1989 and retired August 31, 2014.

In those 25 years of service, Tony rose through the ranks from road patrol officer to the corner office. He came to Delray after spending a few years as a New York City transit cop. He told me he worked underground in the subways and being in Florida where the sun shined was a much better place to be.

I first met Tony when he was a young officer, but we became friends when he began to move up the ranks. I remember attending his promotion party when he became a lieutenant. A large crowd gathered at Boston’s on the Beach to congratulate Tony. You could tell that he was popular with his colleagues and respected as well.

Those traits came in handy as he moved rapidly through the ranks to become chief.

Being a police officer is an immensely difficult job.

Of course, I can’t speak personally having never done the job, but I have spent many a day and night “riding along” with officers and it doesn’t take but a few minutes to realize that law enforcement is a challenging profession, probably more challenging today than ever.

Law enforcement throughout our country has been on trial of late. And I stand firmly with those who believe that we must do better. But I am just as firm in my belief that the vast majority of police officers are good at what they do and that their contributions to society are invaluable.

We are blessed in Delray to have had many exceptional officers over the years.

Those men and women—Tony prominent among them– have made all the difference.

When Chief Strianese came to Delray 32 years ago, this was a vastly different place. Delray Beach in the 1980s was circling the bowl. Sorry for the coarse imagery, but it’s the best way I know to describe what it was like.

We had rampant crime, abundant violence and a crazy amount of drugs. Some neighborhoods were literally open air drug markets. I was given the education of a lifetime in the back of cruisers and police vans by generous officers who allowed me, a young reporter at the time, to tag along as they took on the extremely difficult job of making Delray Beach safe.

Delray in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s was an ambitious place. This city wanted to be something more than what it had become which was far from charming.

Here’s a brief summary of conditions that a young officer such as Tony encountered when they went to work.

Our downtown was dead, with 40 percent vacancy.

Our gateway, West Atlantic Avenue, looked far different than it does today. Yes, I know that more needs to be done, but there has been improvement. Back in the 80s and 90s, residents spoke of the fear that kept them indoors. Until community policing took root in the 90s, many residents had no relationship or a deep fear of their own police department.

That changed, because of Chiefs like Rick Lincoln, Rick Overman, Larry Schroeder, Jeff Goldman, Javaro Sims and Tony Strianese. It also changed because of generations of great police officers who went above and beyond.

Over the years, we’ve lost more than a few; including two amazing officers I considered personal friends: Johnny Pun and Adam Rosenthal.

So in this season of unrest, I feel that we have been blessed in Delray Beach.

We’ve had some truly extraordinary public servants protecting and serving us. I wish I could name them all, because they made it safe for this city to thrive.

We owe our quality of life to these special people. They made it safe to plan, invest, grow, dream and thrive.

P.S. Our Fire Rescue department is pretty special too.

I really liked and appreciated Tony Strianese.

He wasn’t comfortable politicking or schmoozing. He was at his best with his officers and with the community too. He was a regular guy. He had seen a lot over the course of his career. He played his cards close to the vest. He was a private person with a big heart.

He served Delray Beach well.

My lasting memory will be of him standing guard in my backyard while a slew of officers, K-9’s and a helicopter searched my neighborhood’s canal for a dangerous fugitive. We were locked down until the bad guy—who had perpetrated a home invasion robbery nearby—was apprehended. Tony quietly commanded the scene and kept us safe and informed. It was quite a night for me and my neighbors. For Tony it was another day at the office; doing what officers do every day. G-d bless those who protect and serve.

Today, I am praying for Tony and his family. And for the men and women who suit up every day never assured that when they leave for work that they will be coming home.

It takes a special person to do that. Thank goodness for brave souls like Tony.

May he rest in peace.





  1. Ron Gilinsky says

    Chief Strainese was truly A Very Special Friend & An Exceptional Person & Police Chief.
    My his memory last Forever.

  2. Frederick J Glass says

    Jeff, as usual a great piece! Tony was a good guy and fun to work with and work for. Delray Beach has turned into a great city and a city for other cities to look at as an example of what can be done to make a city great. You included in the mix that has moved this city to a repeat “All American City”.

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Fred, your service was stellar and helped to win that second All America City Award back in 2001. Special people make for special places. You qualify on all fronts.

  3. David Eberhart says

    Thank you so much Mayor for an another exceptional article. But, this isn’t just any article, rather a fitting tribute to a special person who made a difference because he valued placing our community above all. Those who know this, like me and so many others who served Delray Beach, were taught the value of placing our community first.

    When I was Tony’s FTO, it was my first chance to meet him. It didn’t take long to figure out that he liked policing more than the politics involved with the job and as you articulated, he stayed that way his entire career. He was one of the funniest guys I knew and his humor, especially as the Chief, would often come out of know where and in the least of expected settings. He wouldn’t mind if it was in Staff Meetings or over lunch, it was all the same to him.

    Like so many of my fellow officers and civilian staff members that make up the DBPD, He will be missed, but never forgotten. It’s that way when you retire from a life long commitment to serving with others by your side. You don’t miss the work nearly as much as you miss the people.

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Thank you so much for sharing Dave. You and your colleagues made everything possible for Delray and I and many others deeply appreciate your service and sacrifice.

  4. Todd L'Herrou says

    Thank you, Jeff.

    Tony was a special person. Sharon worked for him for several years, and he was always 100% supportive, and would not tolerate any sexism directed her way by other members of the department.

    My lasting memory of Tony will be of him taking a phone call. When our younger son was in the IB program at Atlantic Community H.S., one of his assignments led him to interview Tony as the Chief of Police, and because of that interview, he had the Chief’s cell number on his contact list. Some time later, there was a lock-down at Atlantic, due to a threat of some kind. Each of the classes of students were directed out onto the stands at the football field, but no one knew what was going on. In the middle of that, my son dialed Tony’s number and the Chief took the call and calmly told him what was going on and that he and rest of the students were all safe and that it would be over soon. As a funny side note, students were not allowed to have cell phones during the day, so my son’s teacher called him out for being on the phone. My son’s response… “hold on a minute, I am talking to the Chief of Police.”

  5. Kerry Koen says

    Chief Strianese was a true partner in the area of Public Safety in Delray Beach. Both the Police and Fire-Rescue Departments worked exceptionally well together due to the leadership that Tony brought to the partnership. That continues even now. Our objectives were simple and the same – make Delray Beach a better and safer community. He always did his part, and more, to achieve that goal. His contribution to this long march is a lasting one, and fondly remembered.

    Kerry B. Koen, Fire Chief (retired)

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Well said Chief. We salute your service as well.

      • McCAll Credle- Rosenthal says

        Chief Tony was exceptional. He took the care of our communities and the City of Delray to the next step. This is sad news for many of us, and we have been fortunate to have him as Chief. He was such a competent and caring person.

        • Jeff Perlman says

          Beautifully said my friend.

          • Rabbi Suzanne H Carter says

            Jeff, thank you for this lovely tribute to Tony.

            When Tony was in Israel training with the Israeli police, he brought back a pin of the American/Israeli flag intertwined, I was really touched – and when I heard of Tony’s passing I pinned it to my lapel in his memory.

            Rest In Peace Tony, you made the world a better place.

            Rabbi Suzanne

          • Jeff Perlman says

            What a beautiful story Rabbi. Thank you so much for sharing. A fitting tribute. Very very touching my friend.

  6. Chief Tony was a special character and a great guy.

    At one of our many discussions outside of City Commission meetings I once confided to him that when I first moved to Delray Beach I was so scared exiting I95 to go east on West Atlantic to get home that I didn’t really stop at the red lights – I’d look both ways and, if nothing was coming, I’d roll on through. He smiled and said, “So did I….”.

  7. Susan Ruby says

    The best to his family. Chief Strianese was a strong leader.. He was not flashy, he did not seek the limelight. He quietly and doggedly acted in the best interest of the City and its officers. A job well done.



    My sister Donna and I along with our parents thank you for this beautiful tribute to our little brother, Anthony. He was a wonderful son and brother and is missed immensely. He always kept us laughing with his humor and witty remarks, his silly emojis and gifs when he text. We are so happy that people saw that humor also. Our hearts are broken. We find great comfort and joy reading the remarks people have made on this article and on the Delray Beach Police Facebook page. I look at the sky differently now and we know we have a very special angel watching over us and all police officers. Stay well & God Bless. Lori Strianese

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Dear Lori, Donna and family,
      Your brother was such a special man to so so many. What a life well lived. He will be forever missed and loved. Thanks for reaching out, we are praying for you and your family, Jeff

  9. Maria Shulmistra says

    Tony was a great family man – he was also a great friend, always there whenever anyone need help. Sending my condolences from Canada to his wife and daughter and also his family – He will always watch over his family

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