Chief, mayor resolve issues

NFL owners and players settled their differences in time for the football season to begin as scheduled. Bradenton Beach’s most prominent Packers fan and Bears fan — the mayor and police chief, respectively — also recently resolved some issues in time to enjoy NFL play.

“I wanted to drop you a line to see if you wanted to schedule a time next week that you and I could sit down and try (to) sort some of this stuff out,” Chief Sam Speciale wrote in a recent e-mail to Mayor Bob Bartelt.

He continued, “I’m looking forward to resolving some of our issues so we can get back to business before football season starts (Go Bears).”

A meeting between the mayor and chief took place Aug. 15 and lasted about two hours.

“It was a clearing of the air,” Speciale said.

Both men said later that a tense and somewhat contentious period has passed. The mayor said he has answers and the chief said he has guidance.

“Him and I, sitting down, talking, everything went great,” Speciale said. “We discussed the issues. We both gave our feelings. I walked out of there with a very positive attitude.… Both of us have to work toward the betterment of the city.”

The mayor said, “We went over some things.… I’ve got answers from the chief that satisfy me.”

Speciale’s request for a sit-down came less than a week after a volatile public meeting on the police department budget. Dozens of people packed the small Katie Pierola Commission Chamber to endorse the police department and defend Speciale — rumors were circulating that the chief might be fired and the sheriff’s office hired to replace the police department. Neither action was on the agenda, and at the conclusion of the meeting the commission reaffirmed its prior vote for the police budget.

Speciale’s request for a conversation with Bartelt also came about three weeks after he met with Vice Mayor Janie Robertson in a closed-door personnel session. An attorney representing the city attended, as did a Florida Police Benevolent Association representative who accompanied Speciale.

Robertson said the mayor asked her to take the July 21 meeting, which was held to inform the chief “there would be a list of tasks requested.”

“The meeting was performance-related,” Bartelt said. “We were looking for certain reports, things like that.”

Minutes state that Robertson gave a “preliminary declaration of future job expectations which are not currently being performed” during the meeting, which lasted about 30 minutes.

A July 25 memo to the chief from Robertson detailed “specific objectives to assist you with improving your performance.”

The memo said the chief should:

• Attend all countywide police department meetings, as well as city commission meetings.

• Achieve accreditation for the police department.

• Prepare monthly reports to the commission on the hours on patrol, hours on car patrol, hours on beach patrol, the number of crimes investigated and reported, the number of ongoing police investigations, the number of closed investigations and the number of citations issued.

• Prepare a memo identifying department divisions and a summary of employee responsibilities.

• Evaluate his top officers and oversee evaluations of other officers, and provide performance evaluations to the city clerk.

• Provide records of in-service training and certifications for the past five years to the city clerk’s office.

• Prepare goals for the department.

Speciale, in an interview with The Islander, responded to each point:

• He said he attends county law enforcement meetings and many city meetings, and will be present at all commission meetings.

• Accreditation comes from a private company and costs money. “For an agency this size, it doesn’t make sense,” the chief said, adding that the Holmes Beach Police Department also is not accredited.

• The data requested in monthly reports to the commission exists in BBPD logs, which can be provided for review.

• Employee responsibilities have been detailed in job descriptions since 2001.

• Job performance evaluations take place, but not using standard forms. “The city never formally voted on doing job evaluations,” the chief said.

• Records of in-service training and certifications are available.

Speciale said he requested the meeting with the mayor to review the tasks and answer questions.

“The mayor is my boss,” he said. “I’m loyal to the city, and I’m loyal to my boss.”

Speciale said the events of recent weeks make it clear that the mayor and commission want more information more regularly about the police department.

“I’m more open to what the commission wants, what the mayor wants,” he said. “If the commission wants more information sharing, I’ll gladly do that. I’ll gladly give them all they want.”

And so the city’s most prominent Bears fan, who hails from Chicago, is ready for some football.

And the city’s most prominent Packers fan, who hails from Milwaukee, is ready for some football.

“Go Bears,” said Speciale.

“All I can say is the Packers reign triumphant,” Bartelt said.

Tension has dissipated, but a rivalry remains.

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