Unsung Heroes Took Back the Village


“This is my badge. There are many like it but this one is mine. This badge is special. It represents justice. It represents commitment. It represents service. It represents pride and it represents sacrifice. I have worn this badge for many years. Today, I will wear this badge, my badge for the last time. I will receive a new badge. My new badge will have the word “Retired” engraved on it. I will carry my new badge with pride, but it will never fully replace this badge, my badge. God bless the men and women of the Delray Beach Police Department. I will miss you all.” Lt. Toby Rubin on his Facebook page.

Last Friday, my friend Toby Rubin retired from the Delray Beach Police Department.

My guess is that many of you don’t know his name. But you should. Because he and others like him are important contributors to Delray Beach.

Toby rose through the ranks from officer to lieutenant in a stellar 30 year career, but when history books are written most likely Toby’s name won’t be included.

That’s a shame, because men and women like Toby who serve in our Police Department and elsewhere in city government don’t get the credit they deserve for what they do day in and day out. They built this town.

Lt. Rubin didn’t get rich serving our city. He does have a decent pension to go along with aches and pains that come from a hard life spent protecting and serving our city.

Delray Beach is not an easy place to be a police officer. Or a firefighter. Or these days—a planner or a parks maintenance employee—pick your job.

You pick up a newspaper and you read about public pensions destroying municipal budgets. You open your email or visit social media to share good news and find a diatribe about government and government workers.

But I know a different story.

I saw a different side to the argument.

Oh, I won’t pretend that bad government employees don’t exist—they do. A few exist in the upper echelons—suits who manage to whine about problems but offer no fixes other than cut, cut, cut. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. They always look down, backwards and elsewhere when they ought to be looking in a mirror to see waste up close.

But I saw the other side. I worked alongside people who got things done.

Delray Beach didn’t happen by accident. The downtown didn’t magically transform from blight and grime to vibrant and safe.

Neighborhoods didn’t just miraculously clean themselves up and your $120,000 house didn’t increase to $500,000 or in some cases to over $1 million because some self-important politician or self-anointed citizen watchdog remade your crime and drug infested village into a place where you can take a golf cart and visit 130 restaurants, attend festivals and see free Friday night concerts at Old School Square.

It took vision. And it took money.

It took guts. And it took years.

It took hard work. And it required collaboration, dialogue, passion, patience, optimism and team work.

And it took guys like Toby Rubin.

I used to ride with Toby in the late 80s and early 90s when he was a member the “Tact Team.”

The drug dealers called them the “jump out” crew because they rode in big black SUV’s through drug and crime infested neighborhoods and jumped out to arrest people selling narcotics on almost every corner.

We were mere blocks from the beach and the downtown, which was mostly dead back in those days. I rode with some legendary cops: Mike Swigert, Chuck Jeroloman, Don West, Alan Thompson, Jeff Rancour, the late Johnny Pun and a very young Jeff Goldman, who is now our chief.

I saw Delray through their eyes and many others in the department: Skip Brown, Will McCollum, Craig Hartmann, Michael Coleman, Ed Flynn, Dwayne Fernandes, Robyn Smith, John Evans, Robert Stevens, Tamijo Kayworth, Terrance Scott, John Battiloro, Bob Brand, Tom Whatley, Paul Pitti, Mark Woods, Paul Shersty, Rick Wentz, Jimmy Horrell, Casey Thume, Russ Mager, Geoff Williams, Scott Lunsford, Bobby Musco, Nicole Guerrero, Jeff Messer, John Palermo, Dave Eberhart, Brian Bollan, Scott Privitera, Vinny Mintus—the list goes on and on and on and it continues with excellent officers today.

Most of these names, the general public will never know. But they make the city safe. And without safety there is no community. There would be nothing to argue about, because iPic wouldn’t want to be here and neither would anybody else.

There is no investment, there is no appreciation of property values and there is no quality of life without people like Toby Rubin.

All of those people I mentioned and hundreds more cared about Delray and took great pride in what they were building here. They knew they working on something special—as does the parks worker, the planner, the people in utility billing and the really nice people in the City Clerk’s Office and throughout city government.

We have done a lot in this country to denigrate public servants and public service. It’s pathetic and it’s wrong.

We fixate on what it costs to have a Police Department and a Fire Department, to have a cultural center and a library. We begrudge our public workers when they get a pension and when they get a raise. We send angry emails when they screw up and they do. We all do. Want to see dysfunction? Spend some time in the private sector.

Yes, we need to demand good services delivered efficiently and professionally. Accountability is a good thing, but we also need to make room for gratitude and we ought to take some time to consider the benefits, not just their costs.

That’s actually a good approach to everything.

As Toby spends his first week in retirement, I’d like to wish him a long and healthy life. And I want to thank him and so many others for sticking a young reporter in his SUV and showing me and so many others what needed to be done to transform Delray into a place we can all take pride in.




  1. John Tomaszewski says

    Both Toby’s words and your elaboration need to be echoed in City Hall, the Police Department, every Fire Station, the Chamber of Commerce, and the CRA. The schools in Delray Beach both public and private also need to be praised and acknowledged because that is where Delray’s future lies. It’s about teamwork, not who’s getting what and why. In short terms, it’s about the American way, the way it used to be.

  2. Lee DeCapua says

    You’re still calling this a village? That’s quite a joke. Delray is large, over crowed with shops, restaurants, large residential complexes, movie theater in the center of an over crowed downtown with no parking and another giant compiles on its way. I live on A1A, close to Highland Beach, and I can’t get out of our small apartment complex without waiting for the traffic to quite down going towards Linton Blvd. Delray is now over developed and in danger. I’m living here two years full time and 12 years as a snowbird, and I’ve watch it explode and soon maybe implode. It’s a BIG city now

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Sorry you feel that way Mr. DeCapua.
      I define village by the way we treat each other.
      I strongly disagree that we are overdeveloped.
      Delray was well planned and has come a long way.
      I drive Atlantic Avenue every night from A1A to Swinton and it takes me 4-8 minutes to get down the main street in season.
      Linton has a ton of traffic–in season– because of its sprawl like development pattern.
      Glades Road has traffic all day–also because of sprawl.
      The opposite of traffic is no traffic. The only way to have no traffic is to build a place nobody wants to visit.
      We’ve long ago passed that stage. I like Delray today over the Delray of 30 years ago.

    • What Jeff Pearlman said because I couldn’t say or write a better response.

  3. Betsy Hodde says

    Love me some gratitude, Jeff! That was an awesome read! Thank you!

  4. Jeff- very well said with a personal perspective of what is required to retrieve, build and maintain a community. Great job!

    Kerry Koen
    Fire Chief (retired)

  5. Robert Todd says

    I would like to add a bit about many of the cops, but in particular Toby Rubin. You will never meet a better person then Toby. Toby is a great husband and father, coach, brother and brother in-law. Toby does not have a racist bone in his body, and searches out for the best in everyone. With all of the bad publicity that many police are getting in the media these days, it is so refreshing for someone who is a true representative of many in law enforcement be highlighted. Toby has seen many awful things in his career, and does not it bring home, but continually worked to make Delray Beach a safe place for all.

  6. Jeff, this was one of your best posts. Love this city!

  7. angelos ts says

    We visited Delray on a fact finding trip from Europe, and were very impressed. It was a great 3 day stay (albeit short) but one we thoroughly enjoyed. Delray is an impressive town, well managed from what we saw, clean, beautiful beachfront, and the Atlantic Ave area was vibrant and had a great energy which we found enjoyable and vibrant.
    We’re looking at a second trip this year, and at certain investment opportunities the area can offer.
    The officer retiring here, has no doubt, played a huge part in developing Delray. Police are an integral and central part of any community. It looks like Delray’s police dept has got it right! One can only admire the effort these officers made in creating the Delray we saw as visitors. As a tourist, we would like to thank these officers for their effort!

  8. Vinny Mintus says

    Jeff Perlman, you knocked it out of the park, so well said. Delray Beach is a city like no others Although having grown tremendously in size, it continues to remain a village by the sea. As Jeff mentioned, it took years of hard work and planning by those who believed and bought into the idea Delray could be a great city. Jeff, you were much a part of it as those you mentioned, and you contributed much to make Delray the success it is today. As a retired Police Officer, I would like to thank you and so many others who rode with us, and who had our backs while patrolling the city’s streets. Jeff, you were a credit to the media profession, and a true Journalist. I know I can speak for many of we retirees when say, we loved serving this city and appreciated the opportunity to be a part of what is truly an All American City. Delray Rocks!!

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Vinny thank you so much for your kind remarks and support all these years. Your legacy is unrivaled. I still speak to residents who said they never felt safer when you were on the beat downtown and in Pineapple Grove.

  9. Sean Anderson says

    Jeff, thank you for a great article! Toby was my first training officer when I was hired as a police officer in 1990. I only served Delray for 7 years but was honored to have been partners with the stellar officers you named in this article. Thank you for your support through the years. Delray is a great place! God bless our police and fire!

  10. Donna Quinlan says

    Hi Jeff, this is the first time I read this article.. As always, you speak from the heart, so eloquently and so right. I would have liked to see Tom Quinlan’s name mentioned but he knows the difference he made and the influence he had on so many. I miss seeing you and all the great people who put Delray Beach on the map as a destination. It has been an awesome ride.

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Thanks DQ. I never should have left Tom out. He’s very much an integral part of Delray’s success. I’ve always admired him and every officer I ever spoke to said glowing things about his ability to diffuse situations and take great care of whatever zone he was protecting. Hugs to you and the family. Jeff

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