Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Double Standards do not help our justice system. Double Standards weaken our justice system and undermine the credibility of law enforcement agencies.

Inside the Hollywood Florida Police Department scandal.

Did Former FDLE
Commissioner, Tim Moore and others, give an abusive officer a pass after he lost it and broke the jaw of a 9-year-old kid?

Earlier this year, four Hollywood Florida police detectives were indicted for crimes, including running heroin, protecting gambling operations and smuggling stolen diamonds. The indicted officers were placed under surveillance after federal investigators learned that they were taking bribes and willing to provide protection to organized crime. The FBI charged Kevin Companion, Thomas Simcox, Steve Harrison, and Sgt. Jeff Courtney with escorting drug shipments, laundering stolen jewelry, and protecting criminal suspects. A grand jury was empanelled last month to examine the role of Hollywood police administrators in leaking word of the investigation to the targeted officers. The hot tip afforded the corrupt officers, prematurely interrupted an ongoing FBI probe. And, last week New Times published an article detailing how Hollywood police officers bury complaints and provide cover for family members accused of breaking the law.

The indictments are hardly remarkable for a department that has been embroiled in scandal for decades. We have been tracking Hollywood PD for several years. No police agency its size in Florida has received more complaints through our organization. Our complaint files put Hollywood on our sights long before today’s corruption scandal headlined south Florida papers.

Our first encounter began when we received a call from a Hollywood resident, David Bosky. Mr. Bosky told us that Hollywood Police Department had come to his residence in response to a disturbance call. According to Mr. Bosky, he was attacked by an HPD officer without any reason. According to Bosky before striking him, the officer would say into a tape recorder, “Stop resisting”. He would then punch or kick Bosky. Bosky told us that no one would take his complaint seriously at the Hollywood police department. We were concerned.

Our investigative staff approved placing the accused officer under observation for several months. Bosky filed a complaint and a civil lawsuit. Neither claim was successful. We were unable to document any violations by the officer.

A year later, Hollywood Police Department returned to our sights after one of our staff, Ritchie Rivera drove to Hollywood on business. Ritchie was pulled over by two Hollywood police officers in what seemed a clear case of profiling. The HPD officer making the stop demanded to know why a Latino was driving in a black neighborhood. When Ritchie (a Latino) explained that he might be there to purchase a home or conduct other business, the officers scoffed at his explanation, telling him that was impossible. According to the officers, the only reason Latinos came to that neighborhood was to buy drugs.

We filed a complaint and provided Hollywood Police Department with a copy of a videotape supporting our account of the encounter. No action was taken against the officer. Subsequently, we received two additional complaints of excessive force against Hollywood officers. Both alleged victims were credible, but said they had no confidence in HPD internal affairs. We filed complaints on their behalf. Both were classified ‘unfounded.’

Our most recent incident involving Hollywood police department involved former Hollywood officer, now police union boss, “Big Daddy” Dick Brickman. After we conducted an investigation with CBS4 Miami news called “Police Station IntimidationBrickman became irate over the news story. In what we view as an effort to intimidate the CBS reporter, Brickman solicited police officers to take note of the reporter’s home address and personal information, which he had posted on the police union website as a BOLO (Be On The Look Out). The posting could be interpreted as encouraging police officers to go after the reporter.

Shameful as they are, such tactics are not foreign to Brickman. Several years ago, the chief of HPD sued the police union, Brickman and others for a lurid prank. The chief’s wife was dying of cancer. Someone contacted friends and family of the dying woman in another state informing them that she had already passed away before the cancer had actually killed her. The beleaguered chief blamed Brickman and others for the prank.

When we contacted Brickman to ask about his current activities and to request that he remove the Bolo, he refused to take the information down from the PBA website until he was threatened with legal action by CBS attorneys. We called Brickman at his home. This is what he told us, "You Scumbags".

Hollywood FL, police have a long and frightful history of rogue conduct by officers resistant to the authority of their own police administration. We wanted to know why. We decided to look at the history of one of the accused officers in the current scandal to explore this issue. We have included documents taken directly from Hollywood Police Department’s internal records for this story. It seems that part of the problem in Hollywood stems from an overactive, confrontational police union. There is also evidence that the police administration routinely fails to discipline serious offences when they occur, creating an "above the law" attitude within HPD culture.

In the case of one of the recently convicted officers, Tom Simcox, there is no doubt that if he had been punished years ago for violations of law and policy, he would not be in prison today, for a brazen string of felonies committed under the cloak of his police uniform. The following story is an example of how bending the rules to save a corrupt cop have long-term implications for the credibility of a law enforcement agency.

9 years ago on a Wednesday afternoon, now indicted Hollywood Officer, Tom Simcox, went to “The Little Dude Ranch” to pick up his son for baseball practice. According to Officer Simcox, when he arrived at the Little Dude Ranch, he was met by 9-year-old Nicholas D’ Andrea. According to Officer Simcox, the 9-year-old Nicholas would not stop teasing him. In response, Simcox says he picked the boy up, gently sat him down on a chair, and grabbed his face to ensure that the boy was looking at him while he admonished him not to be disrespectful.

Unfortunately, Simcox’s story was not consistent with that of the day care center staff, the other kids on the playground or injuries Nicholas suffered. When Nicholas arrived home with a broken jaw, his mother was infuriated. She demanded to know what schoolyard bully had broken her son’s jaw. His mother was shocked when she learned that it was not another child who was responsible for breaking her son’s jaw on the playground, but rather 40-year-old off duty officer, Tom Simcox.

Attempts to conceal Officer Simcox’s actions were quickly undertaken by the Boynton Beach Police Department, whose jurisdiction included the school where the assault occurred. Boynton Beach Police Department tried to conceal public records from the press by marking the case files confidential and keeping the entire matter on the down low. The investigating detective, Dan Griswold, quickly downplayed the seriousness of the incident. Griswold told reporters that the beating Simcox gave a nine-year- old “…was not really a big deal.” Griswold said that he had much more important cases to work and that the story was getting attention because it involved a cop.

Despite all the maneuvering, excuses, and police officials throwing themselves in front of the bus for a bad cop, Simcox was eventually brought to trial and convicted for assault and battery. Notwithstanding his criminal conviction, the forces of incompetence, favortism and nepotism at the Hollywood Police Department would not be deterred. Before this recent FBI investigation, Simcox would hold the dubious title of being one of the few police officers in Florida with full police powers restored after he had been convicted of a violent crime. The Hollywood police chief publicly supported Simcox. Instead of being kicked off the force for his assault and battery of a nine-year-old child, he was returned to work where we now find him several years later breaking the law again by making deliveries for FBI agents posing as drug dealers.

Judge Barry M. Cohen

“Officer Simcox did not violate the public trust…..He is a devoted father, husband and son in law”

When the case made it to trial, Judge, Barry M. Cohen, sat on the bench. Simcox was accused of assault and battery. Cohen went out of his way to see that Simcox had a soft landing after the jury convicted him of assault and battery. Judge Cohen claimed that though Simcox beat up a nine-year-old kid, he did not violate the public trust as a police officer because he was “off duty”. Though several child witnesses testified that Simcox slapped the child and knocked him down, the judge took Simcox’ word that it was unintentional and that he was actually performing a slapping technique he regularly used on one of his own children who suffers from ADD. According to Simcox, he simply grabbed the kids face and squeezed it. No doubt, he squeezed sufficiently to break the kid’s jaw. As for the rest of the allegations, Simcox said he never struck the kid nor threw him to the ground as witnesses stated.

More than 126 letters were written by fellow Hollywood police officers, FBI agents, and prosecutors on behalf of Simcox. Each attested to his fine character and community service. Even FDLE, the state agency charged with keeping criminal cops off the street, caved in. FDLE waved (gave him a pass) the Simcox conviction, allowing him to return to work. The Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission under Commissioner Tim Moore admonished Simcox but took no serious action. Instead he passed off the matter to HPD returning Simcox to the streets where he would commit crimes later, that were far more serious.

A Broward county prosecutor pointed out that the Simcox abuse of the nine-year-old was an error in judgment, but not a statement of bad character. The prosecutor went on to point out that, Simcox had no record of disciplinary action against him before this incident. The judge pointed out, in his sentencing letter, that punishment was not necessary because Simcox was already being punished by the news reports and negative media attention. Quoting Judge Barry Cohen, “There is not even the slightest indication that the defendant’s conduct was any more than an isolated incident.” FDLE standards and training commission cleared Simcox, stating that serious disciplinary action was being undertaken by his own department obviating any further need for action on their part. And, with that, Simcox strolled back to work without as much as a glove being laid on him.

Would this crime have been taken more seriously if Nicolas had been someone else's child? We believe that if Nicolas had come from privilege and influence the outrage meter might have pushed back in another direction against allowing an abusive off-duty cop a free pass to break a kid's jaw. Had the victim of this attack been the child of Judge Cohen it is likely Simcox would have lost his job as a minimum punishment. However, it appears power and influence were considerable elements in assessing the propriety of punishment in this case, only because the suspect was a cop.

Unfortunately, saving officer Simcox from the consequences of his bad judgment did not serve as a favor. It undoubtedly left Simcox with the impression that the justice system had holes in it. Simcox learned that he could traverse back and forth through those holes, sometimes as a cop, other times as a criminal.

Perhaps, had Simcox lost his job or even faced a stiff penalty nine years later, he would not be shuttling drugs and providing protection for organized crime. According to the Sun Sentinel, Simcox finished his police career working as an undercover informant, identifying other suspects/officers in his department for the FBI.

According to news accounts of the ongoing investigation, one of the most troubling aspects of this case came when the targeted officers bragged that they could get out of any trouble they might get into because they have friends in high places both inside and outside of the police department. The officers named several high-ranking Hollywood police officials who would help them if they got in trouble. According to the police chief none of the officers identified as potential accomplices could be connected to any criminal activity.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a way this was gods doing because god knew this scum bag of a cop was going to do more serious crimes and now will not be able to get out of it. Let this scum bag of a cop along with all the other scum bag cops wrought in prison!!!!LOL

Tuesday, September 04, 2007 11:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Citizen Kane said...

Thomas Simcox, during his initial probation period back in the early 80's, stopped me on the pretext of an inoperative left hand blinker. He was rude, condesending, foul mouthed and wasted about one hour of my time, then let me go when he could not find anything wrong with my driver license, insurance and every other light in my car (the blinker DID operate properly).
I sent a letter to the police chief at the time (Chief Martin?) and in it I predicted that Simcox is not good cop material and will some day bring shame on the HPD. Well, this just went over the Chief's head. Sadly, I shreded my copy of the letter to the Chief back in 05. I bet it was never placed in Simcox file.

I hope Simcox gets his rear end drilled real good by another inmate in Oakdale FPC. I sincerely wish that he spends the 11 years contemplating the sack of s**t he really is. When he comes out at 60 years of age, his rear end wasted by years of use by other inmates, the only job he would find is selling pencils on the street corner - what a great epilog to a scumbag.

As for "Judge" Cohen - what a dirtbag. Shame on you.

Friday, September 28, 2007 3:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was happy to find this website. But it also confirmed my suspicions that the corruption in the HPD (Hollywood PD)must be completely and utterly omniscient.

On Friday November 9th I was in my car with my 16 year old son on my way to the Emergency room at Joe Dimaggio Childrens Hospital. My 12 year old daughter was injured when a concrete bench in a city park fell on her and crushed her right foot. I was contacted by my wife who was with my daughter at the hospital but she would not tell me very much until I got to the hospital. I was terribly distraught but kept my composure as best I could on my way to the hospital. I was sitting behind an unmarked police car at the red light 1 block from the hospital. The light changed to green and the 4 cars in front of the police car proceeded through the intersection but the police sat there not moving at all! Obviously I was confused by this but I waited for what seemed like an eternity. Finally I could not stand waiting any more and I honked the horn. The car still did not move. So while the light was still green I proceeded around the car using the right turning lane and then moving back into the thru-lane after getting around the police. I drove 1/2 a block and was pulled over by the same car I had just passed. When then detective came to my window I told him my daughter was in the emergency room just 1/2 block away. He went back to his car and I waited 20 minutes before the detective came back and handed me 2 tickets for improper use of horn and for passing him on the right! I took the tickets and proceeded toward the hospital. Pulling into the driveway the detectives followed me. I pulled over and got out of my car and asked them what they wanted. I was then threatened with physical violence, called numerous foul names and they tried to intimidate me even further by saying if I didn't like it then they would arrest me and haul me off to jail and I would not be able to see my daughter. I asked them why they were doing this they said "because we're the police and we can do whatever we want to."

I followed up with a phone call today to their boss. This ignorant turd just added insult to injury. He taunted me saying he had heard that I was "just released from jail and his detectives were performing their duty".

Just so everyone knows who these inhuman dirtbags are. Detectives Patriarca and Lopez. Their boss is luitenent Redding. As far as I am concerned they can all rot in hell where they belong.

How can any of us support cops who act like this? The sad fact is that the only difference between the criminals and these police is a badge. I think this pile of crap Simcox is proof positive and the icing on the cake for me is what happened over the last 7 days.

We need to fight facism and the corruption of the police state. I am convinced of it. I would rather take my chances defending my home, family and my neighbors myself. we should get rid of these cops and then maybe they can go find an honest job. Cops like these self-serving jackasses are absolutely worthless to us. Ask yourself this question, Are these police ever there when you need them? I can tell you for certain they have never been there for me when I needed them. Fire them all!

Thursday, November 15, 2007 11:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, have had a bad incident with the Hollywood, FL police. Just the other week, I stopped outside a gas station to give a panhandler a dollar. I don't always do this, but the panhandler seemed very polite and I have been in dire straits myself before (no longer, thank Heavens!) so I am sometimes sympathetic to them. Anyway, I paused to light a cigarette and talk a moment with the fellow; the panhandler, was of course, breaking minor laws by asking people for money and having an open can of beer. Suddenly, an unmarked white car pulled up and out pounced a large white man wearing what I would call "half a cop uniform". He had on the white uniform shirt and navy biking shorts like Hollywood beach cops wear, and a loaded weapons belt, but NO shoulder patch I.D.'ing his dept, NO nametag and at no time did he actually say he was a police officer or show us a badge. He came at us waving his nightstick, threatened us immediately that he would haul us both off to jail for 3 days, and was incredibly frightening and overbearing. Seeing no police identification on him, and too afraid of this weapon-wearing bully to badger him for I.D., I fled the scene at first chance. I then called the Hollywood Police Department to complain, that either they had a rogue officer not wearing his I.D., or possible a police impersonator with weapons on the loose. The first call, they refused to even take a report. The second call, the dispatcher promised me she would have a supervisor call me right back. Geez, it's been a week and I'm still waiting for that "right back" phone call.....I am about ready to make a huge stink about this. I cannot believe they will not take a call about a possible armed police impersonator seriously! I am happy to have found this site, good luck to everyone else with their greivances.

Friday, February 15, 2008 8:18:00 AM  

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