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.


The KWPD is divided into two bureaus:[3]

  • Operations Bureau
  • Administration Bureau


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.[4]

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 and threats at them. The man upset by the racial slurs responded by attacking the name-callers. An officer arrived on the scene Tasered the man on his right shoulder, causing him to hit his head on the sidewalk, and fall into a coma.[5][6]

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. [7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

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