Crescent City mayor says police chief is building an ‘empire’

Proposal about retaining police officers, hiring new ones tabled during most recent meeting

CRESCENT CITY — A proposal by Crescent City Police Chief Angelo Damiano for retaining police officers and hiring new officers was tabled during the regular commission meeting March 9 and moved to a special meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Damiano presented his original request to commissioners during a Feb. 7 workshop to discuss police matters.

On Monday, Mayor Brett Peterson said he and other commissioners expressed frustration with the lack of response from the police department and if Damiano’s proposals were needed.

“I’m just not buying into this,” Peterson said. “I am very skeptical, and I’m going to tell (Damiano) so. I see an empire being built.”

During the commission meeting, Peterson said, Commissioner Barbara Scholl told Damiano she called the department twice hours apart and the call went unanswered before being forwarded to the sheriff’s office.

Peterson said he was concerned with the lack of coverage the city was now getting with the department.

“With (former Chief Robert) Johnson we had coverage 24 hours, seven days a week and he was short two people,” Peterson said. “Now, its basically daylight coverage. The chief has said he doesn’t want officers pulling cars over without backup.”

Damiano said during the workshop his department has two vacancies.

Peterson said Damiano and Sgt. Bob Chayer work the same schedule.

“Why do we have two administrators working the same time with a patrol officer?” Peterson said.

In the proposal presented to commissioners, Damiano requested Better Place Plan funds be used for two patrol vehicles. The city has applied for a grant for two patrol vehicles to be purchased this year and purchased two vehicles on a grant last year.

Peterson said he is upset the first two vehicles purchased were for officers in administrative positions.

“The two new cars the chief and the sergeant got them, not the patrol officers,” Peterson said.

Peterson said the old patrol cars should have been the first ones replaced because they were being used all day, causing excessive wear and tear on the engines.

Peterson said he wasn’t aware until the commission meeting that Damiano’s vehicle could not be used as a patrol vehicle because it didn’t have reinforcements needed for transporting arrested suspects.

City Manager Patrick Kennedy said changes to the proposal are likely after the special meeting Thursday.

Scholl and Damiano were unable to be reached for comment by press time. 

Palatka Daily News

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