Hollywood Police Department (Florida)

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Hollywood Police Department
Common name Hollywood P.D.
Abbreviation HPD
Patch of the Hollywood Police Department.png
Patch of the Hollywood Police Department
Agency overview
Formed 1925
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
General nature
Operational structure

The Hollywood Police Department (HPD) is a full-service agency servicing a population of 145,629 in 27 square miles (70 km2) of the municipality of Hollywood, Florida.[1] At full strength, the Department has 322 sworn law-enforcement officers.[2]


Frankie Mae Shivers, the most recent HPD officer to have been murdered in the line of duty

The police department was established on 8 December 1925, along with the town itself. The department had seven chiefs in its first year of existence as the city council appointed inexperienced locals with little interest in the work.

On 17 September 1926, a massive hurricane destroyed most of the town. The local National Guard unit protected the city as the department was devastated. Captain Clare Stout headed this operation and became chief of the department less than three years later.

The Great Depression hit the town hard. By 1931, policemen were forced to drive their own cars on patrol and pay in part for their uniforms. The next year, the city was unable to meet payroll and issued letters of credit in lieu of salaries.

The number of police officers on the force varied wildly during this period. The department was understaffed, underpaid and led by chiefs who lacked professional training. During this period, the city became a base for organized crime. Despite the legal prohibition of alcohol, many illegal bars and casinos operated undisturbed by the police. “Lucky” Luciano and Meyer Lansky ran their operations from Hollywood. These activities continued into the postwar era, despite periodic attempts by the state to suppress them. Between 1947 and 1951, United States Senator Estes Kefauver and the Miami Herald highlighted local corruption and vice. This led to increased pressure that drove the biggest operations to Las Vegas and nearby Cuba.


In September 1980 an unknown number of police officers called in sick as a work action. The department’s own website reports that in the 1980s many officers were more concerned with their side jobs as security guards than with their work with the department.

In January 1986, Richard Witt became chief of police. He had served 26 years with the Miami Police Department. He was the first chief of police with professional experience and few connections to the moneyed interests in the city.[3]

Chiefs of police[edit]

Name Date Appointed Notes
Virgil Wright 8 December 1925 Resigned the next day
George Bausweine 15 January 1926
Larry Walsh 31 March 1926 Interim
CC Freeman 5 July 1926
“Big Bill” Adams 5 October 1926
Joe Valley 12 June 1926 The town’s first detective
Clare Stout 22 March 1929
Arthur M. Wittkamp 6 October 1930 Fired
James Camphart 1 August 1936
EW Christian 2 September 1940
James Camphart 16 November 1941 reappointed
James Lane 28 September 1943 Acting
Philip A Thompson 4 February 1947 Died in office
Woody Malphurs 28 December 1965
“Bud” Naylon 1 November 1970
Sam Martin 28 June 1974
Dick Witt 16 January 1986
Rick Stone 1 October 1996
Jim Scarberry 26 January 1999 During this period, the department was under FBI investigation.[4]
Chadwick Wagner 3 November 2007
Vincent Affanato Interim Chief
Frank G. Fernandez 13 August 2013 Resigned to take position for the City of Coral Gables
Tomas Sanchez 10 July 2015


The current chief of police is Tomas Sanchez.[5]

The department is divided into two bureaus:[6]

  • Investigations and Support Services Bureau, run by the Assistant Chief includes:
    • Criminal Investigations Division
    • Support Services Division
    • Professional Standards Division
  • Patrol Services Bureau, includes:
    • Patrol Division
    • Special Operations Division
    • Neighborhood Services Division

Campaign against snipe signs[edit]

In 2012, the department began to use computer software to call numbers on commercial signs left on roadsides in the city. It reported as much as an eighty percent decrease in these small "snipe signs" in the city limits.[7]


Police Chief Rick Stone was brought in to try to reform the troubled and scandal-plagued department in 1996. He filed a RICO (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization) lawsuit on April 13, 2000 against the Broward County Police Benevolent Association and two union bosses, who were also members of the Hollywood Police Department.[8]

In 2007, several Hollywood Police Department officers were implicated in a wide-reaching corruption investigation by the FBI, and a few officers turned state's evidence in order to reduce their potential sentences.[9] Four officers were jailed for trafficking in heroin.[10][11]

In 2009, five Hollywood Police Department officers were accused of trying to cover up a crash involving one of their own officers by lying on police reports. Officer Dewey Pressley is clearly heard on video to "draw little Disney here.." the report and as saying, "if I have to bend the rules to protect a cop I'm gonna." The audio from the incident was recorded by dashboard camera, and was reportedly full of vulgar language.[12] On 7 January 2010, Police Chief Chad Wagner fired five officers involved in the incident.[13] The officers were by that point in their sixth month of paid leave.[14] On 10 April 2012, Officer Joel Francisco was sentenced to ninety days in jail after he pleaded guilty in the original accident. He had been talking on his phone when he hit the other car with his official vehicle. His record shows eight traffic accidents in his twelve years with the department.[15][16] One other former Hollywood officer, Dewey Pressley, is appealing a ninety-day sentence.[17]

On 28 December 2010, Officer Jonathan Commella beat and tasered Arben Bajra while he was handcuffed. Bajra's skull was fractured in the attack and he suffered permanent impairment. Commella had mistaken Bajra for someone. No charges were brought against either man. In November 2013 the department paid Bajra $195,000. Commella had by then moved on to be a deputy of the Broward County Sheriff.[18][19]

In March 2015, the city paid $240,000 to settle a police brutality lawsuit. The suit alleged that five police officers beat up a man and planted drugs on him. At the man's criminal trial the officers testified he had ground his own face into the pavement. The case was dismissed.[20] At about the same time, the department lost its state accreditation.[21]

According to a 2017 report by the county inspector general, “The lack of oversight and accountability facilitated the theft of $137,609 and 1,096 pills from the Hollywood Police Department’s custody prior to January 2012,” but nobody was held criminally liable as a result.[22]

The previous comments in this article are very unbalanced and seem to primarily emphasize the problems experienced by the department and certain individuals none of which can be denied. The facts are that, while the Hollywood Police department experienced a number of serious problems, it also produced no less than seven people who went onto become Police Chiefs at other departments and to a person had sterling reputations in those departments. It also had over 500 sworn and civilian personnel, many of whom were among the finest to be found in law enforcement and should not be tarred and feathered along with those who failed to maintain their integrity and ethics. For example it was one of the first departments in Florida to mandate college degrees for promotion to supervision and management. It also was one of the first agencies to develop a detailed set of written policies and procedures as well as a formal use of force policy. Another positive accomplishment was that the department was one of the first to adopt an Affirmative Action Plan in the state of Florida. They also were pioneers in the establishment of a field training officer program, a Community Service Officer program and the School Resource Officer programs now considered standard by most modern police departments. In short, the Hollywood Police Department has a lot to be proud of accomplishing as well some things to regret ever happening. But it should be pointed out that most of the department had little control over the despicable actions of a few.

A lot of the problems of the department can be directly tied to the fact that members of the department union engaged in partisan political activities with members of the City Commission and other local politicians. A lot of that activity was actively encouraged and even solicited by those politicians. Arguably some of the persons who were promoted to positions of authority in the police department gained those ranks at least partially though political influence, rather than through merit. At least some of them were directly involved in some of the incidents previously noted in this article as well as some not even discussed.

Fallen officers[edit]

  • Officer Owen Coleman, January 25, 1926
  • Officer Henry T. Minard, November 18, 1972
  • Officer Byron W. Riley, August 30, 1973
  • Officer Phillip C. Yourman, August 30, 1973
  • Officer Frankie M. Shivers, September 6, 1982[23]
  • Officer Alex Del Rio, November 22, 2008[24]


  1. ^ "Hollywood (Florida) - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-11-01. 
  2. ^ Bryan, Susannah (13 March 2015). "Hollywood Police Department no longer professionally accredited". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 1 March 2017. 
  3. ^ Official website, retrieved 4 August 2013
  4. ^ http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/01/06/1412599/hollywood-aims-to-fire-six-in.html
  5. ^ Official website, retrieved 4 August 2013
  6. ^ Hollywood Police Department - Command Staff
  7. ^ In Florida, Fighting Sign Pollution with Robocalls, by Robbie Brown, 3 June 2012, New York Times
  8. ^ Ex-Police Chief Sues South Florida Union by Michael Nelson on 04/24/2000, National Legal and Policy Center
  9. ^ "Four Hollywood Florida Police Officers Take Step Toward Corruption Plea Deals". The Ledger (Lakeland, Florida). 19 April 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-11. Retrieved 2007-10-02. 
  10. ^ Deey Pressley, ex-Hollywood cop, accused of doctoring report to protect officer Joel Francisco,WPTV.com, 28 November 2011
  11. ^ "Former Hollywood police officer sentenced in corruption probe" (Press release). United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida. 10 August 2007. Archived from the original on 18 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-02. 
  12. ^ Tonya Alanez (July 29, 2009). "Hollywood officers accused of faking report in crash". The Miami Herald. Retrieved November 2, 2009. [dead link]
  13. ^ Deey Pressley, ex-Hollywood cop, accused of doctoring report to protect officer Joel Francisco,WPTV.com, 28 November 2011
  14. ^ http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/01/06/1412599/hollywood-aims-to-fire-six-in.html
  15. ^ Deey Pressley, ex-Hollywood cop, accused of doctoring report to protect officer Joel Francisco,WPTV.com, 28 November 2011
  16. ^ Ex-cop pleads guilty in crash cover-up, 10 April 2012, WSVN television news report
  17. ^ Olmeda, Rafael A. (13 January 2012). "Former Hollywood cop gets, and appeals, 90-day jail sentence". SunSentinel. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  18. ^ Hollywood man beaten by cop wins $195,000 settlement, 6 November 2013, by Susannah Bryan, Sun Sentinel
  19. ^ Internal Affairs report (PDF) at http://www.sun-sentinel.com/media/acrobat/2013-11/242489400-05154544.pdf
  20. ^ Bryan, Susannah (26 March 2015). "Plantation man wins $240,000 in Hollywood police brutality case". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 1 March 2017. 
  21. ^ Bryan, Susannah (13 March 2015). "Hollywood Police Department no longer professionally accredited". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 1 March 2017. 
  22. ^ Teproff, Carli (28 February 2017). "Gross mismanagement' led to more than $100K missing from Hollywood's evidence room". Miami Herald. Retrieved 1 March 2017. 
  23. ^ Slain Officers
  24. ^ Fallen Heroes - Officer Alex Del Rio

External links[edit]