By: Sharon Aron Baron
The City of Tamarac now has a new captain leading the district. But he’s no stranger to the city.
Captain Jeff Cirminiello, 47, spent his summers in Tamarac. A Long Island native, he first visited the city at the age of 12, when his grandparents moved to Tamarac’s Westwood 24 in the mid-1980s. He had great memories where he would spend his summers in the city with friends he met from Coral Springs.
“We would jump from the bridge off of University Drive into canals — not knowing what was underneath,” he laughed.
They would also fish behind the Publix in the canals as well. So every summer he would look forward to coming to Tamarac.
“All of my friends, other than the two kids from Coral Springs, were all about 85-years-old or older.”
His grandfather was the chairman of the board of the Italian-American Club in Tamarac, and they used to attend all the events with him. His grandfather was very vested in the city. He would send his family photos taken of him and then-Mayor Norman Abromowitz, highlighting some of the events the club had, including a performance by the 1950s vocal group, The Platters.
A graduate of Longwood High School, Ciminiello was a paid first responder in a volunteer fire district. As a critical-care EMT working with the Suffolk County Police, he noticed how the police saw so much action and how they were always on the move. They encouraged him to become a law enforcement officer.
“My choice was to either go to NYPD or give it a shot in Florida because of the weather,” he said.
In 1996 he decided to apply to the Lighthouse Point Police Department and wait and see what would happen. But as luck would have it, they responded to him reasonably quickly, so Ciminiello moved into his grandparents Tamarac home and went to work for them.
Inspired by the TV show “COPS” as well as watching BSO cars driving around, Ciminiello thought it would be cool to be a part of Broward Sheriff’s Office, but at the time, they weren’t hiring. However, after two years, he was able to work for them.
In 1998 he became a road patrol supervisor in Dania Beach. He was later promoted to the rank of detective sergeant with the City of Parkland in 2004, where he supervised the Narcotics Interdiction Task Force. During this tenure, he ran federal task forces in addition to other special units. He did this for several years and then worked with the Gang Unit.
In 2016, Ciminiello was promoted to lieutenant, where he was assigned as the patrol commander for both the cities of Tamarac and Pompano Beach. In 2018, he was assigned to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Department of Administration, where he worked on the real-time crime center projects, which includes building the largest law enforcement drone unit in the nation with over 70 drones. This department was later turned over to its aviation division.
During this time, he was appointed captain, and he was in that position for a year when the position of district captain in Tamarac became available after Captain Neal Glassman retired.
Sheriff Gregory Tony made a recommendation of Ciminiello and two other candidates to Tamarac City Manager Michael Cernech. It was up to Cernech to decide who was the best fit for the city.
“The two people I went up against were outstanding candidates. Either one of them would have done a phenomenal job. Just two solid, solid people.”
Captain Cirminiello was ultimately selected as the district captain for Tamarac.
During this time, Cirminiello earned two degrees: a bachelor of science in organizational leadership, and an MBA from St. Thomas University. He is also a graduate of the University of Louisville’s Southern Police Institute Command Officers Development Program. He has a wife and 12-year-old son and dreams of visiting Naples, Italy, with them both one day — when he has enough time.
But first, Cirminiello’s goal for the district is getting deputies out of their vehicles, and introducing themselves, as well as interacting with the citizens of Tamarac.
“We are servants of the community,” he said.
Cirmininiello said he likes to remind them why they took the job. Both he and Executive Officer Warner Phillips are trying to spend time meeting with every deputy.
“We ask our deputies, ‘Why did you get into police work?’ and they say the same thing: ‘we want to help people.’”
“We’re creating a culture where you can enjoy helping people –– because helping people isn’t always getting out and chasing people and arresting the bad guys. That’s just a tiny percentage of what we do. The more significant portion is being available and accessible to people and understanding and building relationships. So we want to try to create an environment where we are accessible.”
To better help communications between residents and police, they’re going to look into getting their own social media accounts because Cirminiello said he’s “big into social media.”
Cirminiello was honest about addressing the issues that have faced the district this past year from the deputy using excessive force with the teen to the issue Commissioner Gelin faced when confronting the deputy who arrested him.
“The city welcomed us with open arms, including Mr. Gelin.”
He said Gelin had gone out of his way to open up a “Cops in the Community Bike Ride” to help build relationships.
“I think that’s a significant step forward with the city and the community. So I’m looking forward to building these relationships.”
Ciminiello said he would continue to increase their communications with the city, the citizens, and the juveniles.
“I promise you that the issues we will deal with will be dealt with in a very professional manner.”