Key West Police Department

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Key West Police Department
Abbreviation KWPD
Key West Police.jpg
Patch of the Key West Police Department.
Agency overview
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* City of Key West in the state of Florida, USA
Monroe County Florida Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Key West Highlighted.svg
Map of Key West Police Department's jurisdiction.
Size 7.4 square miles (19 km2)
Population 25,478 (2000)
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Key West, Florida
Agency executive Donald J. Lee, Jr, Chief of Police
Key West Police
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Key West Police Department (KWPD) is a full-service law enforcement agency servicing a population of 25,031 and 6 square miles[1] within the municipality of Key West, Florida.


The Key West Police Department (KWPD), officially the City of Key West Police Department, was established in the early 1800s, having primary responsibilities in law enforcement and investigation within the City of Key West. The KWPD is one of the oldest police departments established in the United States.

The KWPD has a broad array of specialized services, including the Emergency Service Unit, K-9, harbor patrol, bomb squad and narcotics. As part of High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) KWPD combats smuggling and performs anti-terrorism joint operations and investigations with The Monroe County Sheriffs Office, Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) and other local, state and federal agencies. According to the department, its mission is "Protecting Paradise."

Law enforcement within the city of Key West originated at the incorporation of the city in 1828 with a town Marshal. The jail was the brig of a ship docked at the city. By the turn of the century, in 1900 the KWPD had a complement of 13 sworn officers.[2] On April 23, 1982, the KWPD was the "official" police force of the Conch Republic.

In 1987, with the hiring of its first FBI Academy graduate as police chief, Key West began moving into a new and professional era, building credibility with other agencies and the public.

In 1991, community oriented policing was introduced. A more practical approach to law enforcement, it provides the community with the means to eliminate elements that spawn criminal activity. The fewer environments to nurture criminal activity, the less crime there is for police to combat.


The KWPD is divided into two bureaus:[3]

  • Operations Bureau
  • Administration Bureau

Police Chief[edit]

The current Chief of Police is Donald J. Lee, Jr.,[4]


In June 1984, the KWPD was declared a criminal Enterprise under the Federal RICO statutes after a lengthy United States Department of Justice investigation. Several high-ranking officers of KWPD, including Deputy Police Chief Raymond Cassamayor, were arrested on federal charges of running a protection racket for illegal cocaine smugglers.[5]

About 3:30am on April 16, 2011, a mixed-race couple with their infant son were enjoying the festivities on Duval St. when another passersby began to shout racial slurs at them. The man upset by the racial slurs then attacked the name-callers punching one of them in the face. An officer arrived on the scene Tasered the aggressor on his right shoulder. The assailant hit his head on the sidewalk, and fell into a coma.[6][7]

On Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 2013, a traffic stop and slow-speed chase resulted in the death of Charles Eimers. Thirteen police officers and the City of Key West are being sued in Federal Court for wrongful death by the Eimers Family. Charles Eimers, 61, was a retired autoworker who had just arrived in Key West to enjoy the island paradise, according to his family. According to official reports, Eimers's car was stopped when he was weaving in traffic. During the traffic stop, Eimers fled the scene, leading police on a low speed chase across the island. He then drove his car up onto a crowded beach within feet of a crowded restaurant. Officers surrounded and restrained Eimers. While restrained, he became unresponsive. Later a bystander's video resulted in the official reports being questioned by a local newspaper, with the video showing Eimers leaving his vehicle at gunpoint after driving on to a crowded beach, then collapsing. An unconscious and not breathing Eimers was later transported to the local hospital where he remained on life support for four days. His family ordered his removal from life support. The police chief called in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to investigate the death in custody, which is standard procedure. The FDLE has not yet released the results of their investigation. The officers remain on active duty. A CBS Morning News account of the incident aired on May 21, 2014. The case has received on-going attention from "The Blue Paper," a local blog known for their coverage of the police and the tagline "journalism as a contact sport." BIRCH RUN, MI — A Florida grand jury is examining evidence in the death of a Michigan man who died in Key West after he was arrested by police. “Your safe word is “no” and if you can’t talk, move your arms.” The woman lies down on the beach resting on her stomach, hands behind her back. To be clear, we’re not shooting a bondage movie. This is South Beach, at the end of Duval Street, where 61-year-old Charles Eimers died last Thanksgiving Day while being arrested by Key West police officers. The woman on the sand is Naja Girard of The Blue Paper. We were trying to understand, through a reenactment, the most troubling part of the tragedy: the cause of death itself.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

Fallen officers[edit]

Since the establishment of the Key West Police Department, three officers have died in the line of duty.[15]

Officer Date of Death Details
Police Officer Clarence K. Till
Thursday, March 10, 1904
Police Officer Norman Alvin Drew
Thursday, December 18, 1975
Motorcycle accident
Detective John Michael Piskator
Monday, January 23, 2006
Heart attack

See also[edit]


External links[edit]