Fla. city commissioner dodges censure for publicly berating cop

Elberg "Mike" Gelin was criticized by public for speaking poorly of LEOs during cop's award ceremony

Tonya Alanez

TAMARAC, Fla. — A Tamarac commissioner who ambushed a deputy during an awards ceremony, calling him a liar and a rogue police officer, escaped being censured by the city Monday for his controversial remarks — but not criticism.

“There is no motion for censure, and we thank you very much for this conversation," Mayor Michelle Gomez announced after a nearly three-hour discussion about Commissioner Mike Gelin’s conduct, in addition to talking about police misconduct, accountability and timing.

Commissioner Gelin turned a Sept. 25 Deputy of the Month ceremony on its head when he called a deputy, who had just been celebrated for detaining an Interpol murder suspect, back to the front of the room.

Gelin accused Deputy Joshua Gallardo of falsely arresting him four years ago. Many looked on in discomfort, others clearly in dismay, when Gelin launched into his public shaming of the deputy.

“You lied on the police report,” Gelin said into the microphone he held. “I believe you’re a rogue police officer."

He went further.

”You’re a bad police officer," he said. "And you don’t deserve to be here.”

Clearly taken by surprise, Gallardo nodded, smiled and flashed a thumbs-up.

Some say Gelin crossed the line. A discussion of whether he violated the city’s civility code was taken up at Monday’s commission meeting at Tamarac City Hall.

Gomez, who brought the issue to the agenda, stood firm with law enforcement and her “wrong place, wrong time” perspective.

“Our police deserve much better,” she said.

Further, she lamented the wave of negative national publicity that had descended on the city since Gelin’s words and actions went viral.

Speaking before all others, Gelin doubled down Monday night, saying he felt violated by the criminal justice system, traumatized by his arrest and would forever have to explain a mug shot.

“I am not alone,” he said. “Police misconduct affects our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and our family.”

He called for a community coalition to further the discussion, seek solutions and exemplify “how to get it right.”

Many from the public on Monday took their three-minute turn at the podium to berate Gelin and criticize his use of a political platform to further what they deemed a personal agenda. His actions and remarks were inappropriate, shameful, humiliating to the deputy and put the city in a bad light, they said.

Gelin’s issue was his arrest four years ago when he video recorded — at close-up range — the arrest of an aggressive man who was bleeding after a fight in the Salvation Army parking lot in Tamarac.

In a video released from the old case, Gallardo is seen telling onlookers to get back, but Gelin stayed put. Gallardo again told onlookers to stay back, but Gelin was defiant. The two argued, Gelin said he didn’t have to legally move, and he was arrested on the charge of resisting arrest/obstruction without violence. Prosecutors declined to pursue the charge.

Gelin told the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Editorial Board that he has “no regrets” about calling out Gallardo as a “rogue officer."

“The way I look at it, I know someone who falsely arrested me and mistreated me and I only wonder how many other people he has done this to,” he said Thursday.

Several black men spoke from that perspective on Monday, young and old, pastors and ex-convicts. They thanked Gelin for standing up and representing their voices.

“This is a matter of public safety,” said Marsha Ellison, who heads the Broward NAACP.

“It would appear there is no right time to call out police misconduct,” she said in stating solidarity with Gelin. “We are not anti-police. We are anti-police misconduct, we are anti-bad police who don’t do the right thing.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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