Lisa J. Huriash
South Florida Sun Sentinel
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — In the ongoing drama of the Pembroke Park Police Department, which hasn’t yet opened for business, the agency’s top leader is suing his boss.
Police Chief David Howard has filed a six-month notice of intent to sue. He has been the chief since 2021, and the law enforcement agency has been plagued with delays and funding problems. Howard’s letter cites “a campaign of harassment” with two unsuccessful previous attempts to get him fired.
The first time the town manager unsuccessfully tried to get the police chief fired was amid accusations of creating a toxic work environment. The manager tried again on grounds of unbecoming conduct, citing Suwannee County court records that show Howard admitted in court to threatening to kill his brother.
The notice to sue calls the claims “not only false and ridiculous, but indisputably and completely unrelated to Town or to Chief Howard’s job.” The notice says the town “deliberately and maliciously” made the dispute a matter of public record.
“Chief Howard has suffered damages in the form of emotional distress, potential lost income, and attorneys’ fees,” according to the letter.
The letter does not cite how much money will be asked in compensation. On Thursday, Howard responded to queries about compensation with: “An apology would be nice!”
Town Manager City Manager Juan “J.C.” Jimenez declined to comment on the pending matter.
Mayor Geoffrey Jacobs said the town administration is at fault. “I think he’s completely justified in what he’s doing,” he said of the chief’s possible lawsuit. “They were in the wrong.”
The town’s HR director, manager and attorney said at the time they were obligated to let town leaders know because there were a “host of liabilities,” including the chief’s credibility. The mayor was so outraged at the time that he asked for their resignations. Only the Human Resources Director, who was a contract employee, submitted her resignation.
Howard’s lawsuit is not the only legal case the town faces.
Former Town Manager Bob Levy was the town’s CEO from 1988 until his retirement in 2018 and is suing. Levy claims that despite repeated requests for unused vacation and “management” days that he was entitled to, he didn’t get paid. The lawsuit, filed in July, says he is owed $362,005.73.