9-1-1 Your Invited

Have you had an emergency serious enough to call 9-1-1 and wonder what happens after your call is answered?
Let me share 2 recent events that happened in my neighborhood.

In August I heard a light tapping and went to investigate and the tapping stopped. A few seconds later the tapping continued. It came from the direction of my front door and when I checked the “peep hole” I saw two young men standing there. I was trying to determine if they were neighbors, but didn’t recognize either man, when all of a sudden one man backed up and went to a window. I saw him cup his hand around his eyes as he attempted to look in my window.
The man left standing at the door proceeded to bang loud enough to wake the dead. Now I had no illusion as to what was happening, and I was damn mad, and did a foolish thing.
I stormed out my door and confronted him asking what he wanted. He gave the standard answer asking if “Tony” was home. I told him there was no “Tony” at this address and if I didn’t answer the door was that telling them no one was home and they were free to break in and steal whatever they wanted.
The guy at the window ran for the car and jumped into the open back door, followed by the second man. They were considerate enough to back into the driveway so I could read their license plate. I called 9-1-1 to report the incident and within minutes there was an officer at my door. A few minutes later another officer arrived and I was told they were dispatched at the same time. While the officer was at my front door the other canvassed the neighborhood looking for the car.
The officer took a report and then advised me to never, ever open the door and confront anyone again. I new it was a foolish thing to do, but I was so angry to think they would come into my home, destroy my peace of mind, and steal what I worked so hard for.
So finishing my story let me warn you to not ignore strangers at your door. Let them know someone is home without opening the door. I offer you a few suggestions on what to say.
“Just a minute while I wake my son, the police officer”.
“One moment please while I put my shotgun down, I’m in the process of cleaning it”.
“Please wait while I bring my Rottweiler in from the backyard”.
The police officer explained the light tapping at my door was to see if I had a dog in the home. A dog would hear the tapping long before I did and warn unsavory people there was a dog inside ready to protect his home/master.

Another recent incident that happened last weekend.
A neighbor was coming home from work and saw a group of at least four young men walking the neighborhood at 3:30 AM. He pulled into his driveway and observed them walking up driveways and checking car doors. When they arrived at his car he opened the door and stepped out while asking what they were doing. They scattered like the cockroaches they are. The sad end of the story—He didn’t call 9-1-1, but neighbors with outside cameras picked them all up, working both sides of the street.
All these young men did was move onto another neighborhood hoping to get lucky.

It upsets me when residents complain about crime in their neighborhood, but do nothing to help the police catch these criminals.
You can’t turn on the news or read a paper that doesn’t tell the story about car jacking, and loss of property because people can’t be bothered to lock their car doors and leave valuables in plain sight.

Did you know a police officer will visit your homeowners association meeting and talk to residents about keeping yourself and your property safe from people who would do you harm. An officer came to our meeting and the one suggestion that stuck in my mind was do not leave your garage door opener in your car if you park outside. That will allow easy access to your home. That was one of many excellent suggestions given.

With all that said the Dispatch Center at the City West Palm Beach Police Dept. has extended an invitation to all concerned citizens who would like to learn about the City’s 9-1-1 system which will include what to expect when you call, why they ask the questions they do, why they need the information they ask, how calls are prioritized for service, calls from cell phones vs residential phones, among other topics.
The presentation could be life saving to you and your loved ones.

It is my understanding there is much misconception concerning 9-1-1 calls so please consider attending the Power Point Presentation, listen to the people who deal with thousands of calls a year in order to keep you and your neighborhood safe.

Information is a powerful tool and the WPBPD is reaching out to residents, asking for help, and asking residents to do whatever possible to keep crime from their neighborhood and that starts with a 9-1-1 call. Please consider attending. What have you got to lose, except crime.

The Meeting Place & Date:
WPB Police Station 600 Banyan Blvd
Oct. 25, 2016 (Tues.) at 7:00 PM

Business Owners & Citizens of the City of West Palm Beach please join us for a presentation with a Q & A session about the functions of the 9-1-1 Dispatch Center
Please reserve your spot by e-mail to: [email protected]


Between writing this story and publishing it the neighbor with the outside cameras made a copy of the men checking the cars in our neighborhood for the police. Hopefully the police will recognize the crew, but I’m not sure what can be done at this time. It would have been better if the man watching them made the call, and the police could have caught them in the act. ? Lost opportunity.

OIG & Elliot Cohen–The Investigation

Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics: (A Joke Commission)

A complaint with the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics (COE) was filed on Sept. 23,2015 against Communication Director Elliot Cohen for violation of 2-443(d) of the Palm Beach County Code of Ethics “by entering into a prohibited contractual relationship with a vendor of the City of West Palm Beach”

Note: The company Mr. Cohen supposedly did business with was namely Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA) run by Kim Briesmeister, who headed the CRA from 2004 until Aug. 2013 when her bid to take over WPB CRA with a budget of 28 Million dollars was approved by the city.
A note of interest:
Mr. Cohen left the City of WPB for employment in the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and when his employment was terminated he returned to the City of WPB and his application for employment named Kim Briesmeister as a reference. Cohen & Briesmeister have years of history. Coincidence? I don’t believe in them.

On April 7, 2015 the COE went through the steps and conducted a hearing and reviewed the Memorandum of Inquiry, Report of Investigation, and Probable Cause Determination, and came to the conclusion “Public Report Finding No Probable Cause and Order of Dismissal.” One page report sent to the city.

This finding by the COE should be no surprise to anyone following politics in PB County. It rubber stamps most complaints against elected officials and employees such as Elliot Cohen. The COE members are appointed by the very people they may be called upon to investigate. It is my opinion the COE is as helpful in ending corruption as an astray on a motorcycle or a screen door on a submarine. It just don’t work.

Office of the Inspector General: (Only hope residents have for clean Government)

What you are about to read are the first two pages from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report on Elliot Cohen former Communication Director for the City of West Palm Beach.

On September 18, 2015 the office of Inspector General received complaints involving the City of West Palm Beach Director of Communications, Elliot Cohen.

The complaints alleged that (1) Mr. Cohen disclosed “classified and confidential information” relating to the City Police Department and other local and federal agencies to the public. The complaints also alleged that (2) Mr. Cohen used his position at the City, as well as, City time and resources to conduct his private business (Cohen Publicity). The complaints further alleged that (3) Mr. Cohen had a “side job” with City contractor Redevelopment Management Associates.(RMA) After requesting and receiving further information from the City regarding the first two of these allegations, the OIG initiated an investigation.

As to the allegations 1,2,and 3 the information obtained and reviewed by the OIG supports the allegations. The OIG found that Mr. Cohen disclosed “exempt” and “confidential and exempt information”. We concluded that Mr. Cohen had an obligation to ensure that “exempt” and “confidential and exempt information” was redacted before he disclosed the records. In addition, Mr. Cohen should have done an analysis of exempt information regarding criminal investigations to determine whether disclosure would have impeded an ongoing investigation or allowed a suspect to avoid apprehension or escape detention or put police/informants in danger. Additionally, we found that Mr. Cohen did use his position, government assigned office space, desk, computer, desk phone, and cell phone to conduct his Cohen Publicity business.
Finally, we found that Mr. Cohen, doing business as Cohen Publicity, had a contract with City contractor RMA before, during, and after the City let RFQL 12-13-407 and awarded the contract to RMA.

Information obtained regarding allegation 3 as it relates to F.S.112.313(7)(a) was referred to the State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Commission on Ethics for any actions they deem appropriate (as well as any other matters of interest within this report). The Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics dismissed a (C15-021) complaint against Mr. Cohen on April 7,2016 after concluding that no probable cause existed to believe that Mr. Cohen had a relationship with RMA that violated SS 2-443(d) of the PBC Code of Ethics.

Based on the information obtained during this investigation, the OIG developed three additional allegations.

Allegation 4 that Mr. Cohen misused his official public office or employment to solicit business for Cohen Publicity.

Allegation 5 that RMA did not properly disclose its business relationship with Mr. Cohen (Cohen Publicity) to the City during the procurement process for RFQL 12-13-407.

Allegation 6 that RMA did not properly disclose it was employing Mr. Cohen (Cohen Publicity) after it was awarded the above contract by the City.

As to allegation 4, it was referred to the PBC COE, the State Attorney’s Office, and the Florida State Commission on Ethics for any actions they deem appropriate.

As to allegation 5 and 6 the information obtained and reviewed by the OIG supports the allegations. The OIG found that RMA had a contract with Mr. Cohen (Cohen Publicity) that began prior to RFQL 12-13-407 being let and the contract with Mr. Cohen (Cohen Publicity) continued for over eight months after RMA was awarded the contract for RFQL12-13-407. We also found that RMA failed to properly disclose its contractual relationship with Mr.
Cohen (Cohen Publicity) both during the proposal period after being awarded the contract as required.

Based on our supported findings in allegations 3,5 and 6, and particularly that RMA did not disclose its business relationship with Mr. Cohen (Cohen Publicity) as required, we consider that the entire amount the City has spent to date on the RMA contract, $3,205,611.78 to be questioned cost.

The OIG recommends that the City:

1. Take appropriate personnel actions.
2. Take appropriate action to ensure that City employees adhere to General Administration, Chapter 1 Policy 1-2, Public Records Request.
3. Revise written policies and procedures on outside employment requiring employees to obtain approval for leave or work schedule adjustments prior to performing outside employment during the official business day. They should be clearly communicated to city employees and documented.
4. Establish internal controls that accurately represent actual hours worked by exempt City employees.
5. Review the city’s contract with RMA in light of the findings and information provided within this report and take appropriate action.

The responses to this report from the City, Mr. Cohen, and RMA are attached. A summary of these responses with our related comments begin on page 33.

The report from the OIG is 100 pages long and can be read in it’s entirety. Go to the website of the OIG and search Recent Reports.It will be found under
9-28-16 West Palm Beach Public Records 2016-002.

Mr. Cohen had the run of City Hall before he resigned before the OIG report was made public. He was well protected by Mayor Muoio who was told constantly of his discretion’s and attitude towards City employees and residents. He allowed Mayor Muoio to “protect” him, and she did an excellent job of it. She could have been loyal to Mr. Cohen or the folks who voted her into office. I’m sorry she chose him.

The City Commissioners sit as the CRA board and oversee Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA) and they should take another look and fix the situation they created years ago. The fix was in then and if they couldn’t see it they have no right to sit as a commissioner. Commissioners Neering and Ryan were not City Commissioners at the time, and could lead the charge on the miscarriage of justice forced on residents.

One more food for thought. Under the guidance of former City Attorney Claudia McKenna the City sued the OIG over payment, basically crippling their budget and slowing investigations such as the one above. After she retired she received a contract from the City for “consultation”. Her contract calls for $4800.00/month and has been in effect since May 13,2014. So far she has received $139,200.00. One more joke played on the taxpayers. Remember this when you are asked to approve the 1 cent sales tax, as this is a reason the City needs extra funds.

Unhappy with this story? Tell the mayor or commissioners.