RIVIERA BEACH — Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence Williams has raised the specter of Donald Sterling-style racism in the media’s coverage of the mostly-black Palm Beach County city, and singled out CBS12 and its rookie news director Mike McCormick.
It’s another Gossip Extra exclusive you won’t find in The Palm Beach Post: In an internal email destined only to city spokeswoman Rose Anne Brown and attorney Pamela Hanna but obtained by Gossip Extra, Williams takes issue with the presence of a WPEC-Channel 12 crew, including reporter Chuck Weber, in the driveway of his house Friday night after an amber alert for a missing city 2-year-old was lifted.
I’m told the crew in a live broadcast truck showed up in the chief’s driveway in Riviera Beach demanding to know more about the amber alert for 2-year-old Le-Rail Johnson, which was lifted without much of an explanation.
The child was eventually found over the weekend, and is safe.
The chief, meanwhile, refused to be interviewed but complained that the crew’s presence disrupted his 87-year-old mother and his neighbors.
And now the chief claims he’s considering legal action.
Here’s the email:
From: “Williams, Clarence D, lll” <email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>>
Date: May 10, 2014 at 12:32:33 PM EDT
To: “Brown, Rose Anne” <email@example.com<mailto:RABrown@Rivierabch.com>>
Cc: “Ryan, Pamala Hanna” <firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>>
Subject: Re: Amber Alert Downgraded
Rose Anne, please let c-12 news director know I am not happy about their new crew coming to my home…disturbing my 87 year old Mother and neighbors. I consider their actions a violation of public trust and RACIST!! No other public safety official in this media market has ever been treated this way. I will be meeting with the City Attorney on Monday as well as my personal Attorney to seek an injunction preventing future displays of this nature on news issues not related to me in my capacity. I want a letter from my PIO expressing outrage at this practice and expressed again at your next association PIO meeting!
The chief doesn’t talk to Gossip Extra as a matter of course and didn’t comment, and neither did CBS12’s McCormick.
But Brown, RBPD’s spokesman since Williams was hired in 2002, says she agrees with the content of the chief’s email.
“The chief has designated me as his spokesperson, so there’s no reason for a camera crew to show up at his house,” Brown said. “I agree with the chief in the sense that certain reporters show a general lack of respect when it comes with Riviera Beach officials.
“I fielded 30 calls from press people from Miami to Vero Beach about this amber alert. No other TV station demanded that someone go on camera to explain the criteria for issuing an amber alert.
“And no one else went to the chief’s house.”
A video of the news story that CBS12 presented late Friday is below.
There’s no footage obtained at the chief’s house.
In Florida, the addresses and personal information of law enforcement officers are usually kept secret.
Said Brown: “We are working on an official response on what happened (with CBS12). It’s clear that the media in South Florida would never send a live truck to the house of the police chief of any other city.”