A Boynton Beach police officer has been named the department’s alligator wrestler after he lassoed one on a porch this month and filmed it on his body camera.
A Hunter’s Run resident called police July 10 when he found the gator outside his front door. Lucky for that man, Officer Alfredo Vargas showed up with the proper tools and even more important- training on how to handle the reptiles.
After a few tries, the officer successfully threw a rope around the gator’s head and swung the body around to get the mouth away from him. Then he threw a jacket on the head and held the mouth closed while another officer tied it shut.
Vargas called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. But facing a long wait time and likely a death sentence for the gator, Vargas decided to take the gator on a short ride to a nearby canal and let him roam free.
Boynton Beach Police will have a new assistant police chief starting May 31.
Assistant Chief Suzanne Crawford will retire, and will be replaced by Joe DeGiulio, currently a captain, said police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater. DeGiulio has worked for Boynton since 2001, according to the city’s Human Resources department. Crawford has been with Boynton since 1996.
Chief Jeffrey Katz has three assistant police chiefs. The two others are Vanessa Snow, who started with Boynton about two years ago, and Kelly Harris, who started in 1997.
Katz also promoted Paul Deale from lieutenant to captain. He replaces Mike Johnson, who was promoted to major. He replaces Thomas Wallace, who was fired in March.
The department has 150 sworn officers, according to Slater.
Boynton Beach Police have released surveillance video of one of four break-ins that happened earlier this month, and that police think are connected.
The video shows what appears to be two men stealing from No Limit Kutzbarber shopon Friday, April 14. The burglars broke the front glass door, walked inside and stole about $120 in cash.The front door cost about $1,000, and the burglars also stole two registers. The total value of everything is about $2,120. The store is in Paz Plaza on Boynton Beach Boulevard near Congress Avenue.
Police believe the men responsible for this burglary are also responsible for three other break-ins: Renzo’s Cafe and Pizzeria in Cross Creek Centre; Wing Wah Express in Boynton Plaza; and Dean Anthony’s Pizzeria in Boynton Commons
A 36-year-old 5-time felon was arrested in Boynton on Saturday after police found him with a gun and ammunition, according to a city police spokeswoman.
Billy Jean Brown Jr. was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on charges of carrying a concealed firearm, felon in possession of a firearm, nine counts of felon in possession of ammunition, resisting arrest without violence, possession of marijuana and entering a closed park pursuant to city ordinance.
Officers were on patrol in front of the Z Food Meat Market at 1005 N. Seacrest Blvd. when Brown quickly walked away and entered a closed city park. Officer Aramis Grigorian told Brown to stop, but he continued.
Brown tripped and Grigorian tried to take him into custody but couldn’t. Then the officer deployed his Taser. Brown fell to the ground and a black semi-automatic handgun fell out of his waistband and onto the ground.
Grigorian had to use his Taser three times to get Brown handcuffed.
Brown has been sent to prison on drug charges and charges including burglary, grand theft, and battery on a law enforcement officer or paramedic, according to the state Department of Corrections.
City police say skimmers were found at pumps at five gas stations:
Exxon Mobil, 290 N. Congress Ave.
Chevron, 645 W. Boynton Beach Blvd.
Sunoco, 2403 S. Federal Highway
Shell, 111 E. Woolbright Rd.
7-Eleven, 7044 Lawrence Rd.
“If you are going to use a credit card, we recommend that you to go inside the gas station to pay,” Police Spokeswoman Stephanie Slater wrote in a Facebook post. “Always look for the security sticker on the gas pump. If there is no sticker or it is torn, we encourage you to either use another pump or pay inside.”
“By having a (body warn camera) program, the department has the opportunity to provide the full unedited version of an incident video from the officer’s perspective. The program will also increase transparency and police legitimacy,” Katz wrote in a memo to City Manager Lori LaVerriere. “Transparency leads to public trust and trust benefits the community.”
Jones’ uncle Kenneth Banks attended the commission meeting and praised the officials for supporting the program. He said the cameras will prevent the public from “not knowing.”
“One of the worst things is not knowing, not knowing what happened. I live here so I want that security not just for me but for others. We need to know, to protect the officers and also the citizens,” Banks said.
Banks said he hopes all law enforcement agencies in the county start to use them. Already, in Palm Beach Gardens, every sworn officer except for seven members of the command staff started wearing the cameras last summer. West Palm Beach Police also use the cameras. And in Delray Beach, Police Chief Jeff Goldman said all field officers will be equipped with the cameras by 2018. Meanwhile, 20 officers started to use them in July.
In Boynton, the Taser International, Inc. cameras and Evidence.com program software will cost about $561,783 over five years, according to city documents. The police department plans to put about $49,737 toward the cost from its Federal Forfeiture Law Enforcement Trust Fund.