A Florida city’s Deputy of the Month program was designed to improve relations between law enforcement and the community, but it got off to a rocky start when a commission member called one of the recipients “a rogue police officer” and accused him of arresting the panel member falsely.
Deputy Joshua Gallardo was one of the officers recognized by the Tamarac City Commission at last week’s meeting. The commission was honoring the deputies of the month for the first half of 2019. City officials had the idea for the award last month and plans to honor deputies on a semiannual basis.
After the ceremony, Tamarac Commissioner Mike Gelin congratulated all the officers, and called Gallardo back down.
“It’s good to see you again,” Gelin told Gallardo. “You probably don’t remember me, but you’re the police officer who falsely arrested me four years ago, you lied on the police report. I believe you’re a rogue police officer. You’re a bad police officer. And you don’t deserve to be here.”
Gallardo did not appear to speak to Gelin in the video, but could be seen nodding his head and giving a thumbs up towards the commissioners and then the audience before walking away.
“Ladies and gentlemen we appreciate as a whole, BSO and everything you do for us, thank you for your service to our community. We appreciate you,” Tamarac Mayor Michelle Gomez said after Gelin spoke. Tamarac, not far from Fort Lauderdale, is served by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
She later issued a statement calling Gelin’s comments “highly inappropriate.”
“This was neither the time nor the forum to air personal grievances,” the statement said. “I believe this clearly violated the city’s civility code.”
According to the booking report, Gallardo arrested Gelin in July 2015 on suspicion of resisting arrest without violence. Gallardo’s affidavit said that Gelin was recording the police response to a fight and did not comply with repeated requests to move away from the scene. Gelin was not an elected official at the time.
The charges were later dropped.
CNN has asked Gallardo and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office for comment on the arrest, but has not heard back from them.
In a commentary published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Lt. Steve Feeley, the sheriff’s executive officer for the Tamarac District, said that “Gelin’s remarks and actions were out of line.”
Feeley wrote that Gallardo asked him a week before the ceremony if the arrest would be an issue.
“I told Gallardo that we were proud of his work and not to worry about something that happened so long ago. It was a decision that I would soon come to regret,” he wrote.
Feeley wrote that his office is across the parking lot from city hall and that Gelin could have come to him or Gallardo to try to work out their problems.
“Instead, in a fit of anger he selfishly chose to take the spotlight away from a dozen deputies who were recognized for their work and who risk their lives every day to protect the people of Tamarac,” Feeley wrote.
Gallardo was being recognized for the April 15 arrest of a man who was wanted by Interpol (The International Criminal Police Organization) on suspicion of murder in El Salvador. The sheriff’s office said the man was a documented gang member who had been deported from the US in 2015.
During the ceremony, Feeley described it as “a case that I’ve never seen in 30 years of law enforcement.” He said that the suspect started fighting when Gallardo asked him to step out of his vehicle.
Gelin told CNN that he has spoken with Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony.
“We had a productive meeting yesterday afternoon and agreed to move forward in a positive and constructive manner,” he said.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association is calling for a boycott of Gelin’s employee benefits company.
The Broward County Police Benevolent Association endorsed Gelin in 2018, but has withdrawn that endorsement over the incident.
CNN’s Jeffrey Kopp contributed to this story.