Most news stories involving police officers are bad news, focused on crime and law-breaking.
But Wildwood Police Chief Randy Parmer had only good news Monday for city commissioners as he provided recognition for an officer and several local businesses.
As Parmer approaches his one-year anniversary as chief, he has set a positive tone for the department with an emphasis on community outreach.
At Monday’s meeting, Officer Angela Velez was honored as Wildwood officer of the quarter. Parmer praised Velez, who has a year of service, for resolving a traffic issue and recently completing training as a homicide investigator.
“Her attitude and the way she conducts herself is like a veteran of several years,” he said.
The police chief also honored Wal-Mart and Harbor Chase, an assisted living and memory care center on Powell Road, for their help with the department’s Shopping with a Cop Christmas program that provided 23 needy families with $200 gift cards.
Parmer praised Linda Coenen, a teller with Citizens First Bank, for preventing a scam in which people are told to send money for bailing a grandchild or other relative out of jail. When a man tried to withdraw $12,500, Coenen became aware of the scam and managed to stop it.
Barnstorm Theater in Brownwood also was recognized for providing popcorn for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event.
Since Parmer took over as chief on March 11 last year, the department has come out of a rocky period that involved the forced retirement of the previous chief and an electrical fire that destroyed the old police station.
Commissioners praised Parmer for his efforts.
“I think it’s great for you to recognize these local folks,” said Mayor Ed Wolf.
Commissioner Joe Elliott said he’s “impressed with Chief Parmer reaching out to our businesses and our residents. He’s done a fine job of taking a step forward on this.”
After the meeting, Parmer said it’s the people in the department, not him, who deserve the most credit for the changes.
Those changes go beyond awards. He has improved the department’s capability for crime analysis and investigation. After emergency call dispatching was transferred to Sumter County last year, a former dispatcher became a crime analyst.
Commissioners have said they appreciate a weekly newsletter that Parmer provides.
This summer, officers will move into a new $7-million police headquarters under construction on the southwest corner of U.S. 301 and County Road 462 West.
Commissioners approved a payment of $553,762 for the station at Monday’s meeting. So far, the city has paid about $2.4 million. The brick and block exterior is substantially completed and current work involves electrical, dry-walling and duct work.
Parmer was hired several months after an electrical fire in October 2018 set employees running for their lives and severely damaged the police station. Clashes between then-chief Paul Valentino and City Manager Jason McHugh led to the departure of Valentino and two members of his command staff.