Mayor Michelle J. Gomez with IUPA President Matt Cowart at the Tamarac Library.
By Kevin Deutsch
Members of the International Union of Police Associations local stationed themselves at Tamarac Library’s early voting site Friday and urged residents to re-elect Mayor Michelle Gomez, union officials said.
A statement issued by I.U.P.A. Local 6020 said they were endorsing Gomez to “avoid a leadership crisis” in Tamarac and claimed challenger, Vice Mayor Mike Gelin, “doesn’t have the temperament or leadership qualities to represent the residents of Tamarac as the Mayor.”
The local represents around 1,200 Department of Law Enforcement Deputies and Sergeants at the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the union, Gelin “verbally degraded and defamed law enforcement at multiple City Commission meetings” and, if elected, would lead the city in “a direction which fosters hate towards law enforcement.”
Gelin has garnered vocal criticism from law enforcement since Sept. 2019, when he attended a BSO Deputy of the Month Ceremony in Tamarac. Instead of lauding the honoree, a deputy who caught an Interpol murder suspect, Gelin publicly berated him, claiming he had falsely arrested Gelin four years earlier.
“You lied on the police report,” Gelin told Deputy Joshua Gallardo. “I believe you’re a rogue police officer.”
“You’re a bad police officer,” said Gelin. “And you don’t deserve to be here.”
Tamarac’s other elected officials did not censure Gelin for the incident.
Matt Cowart, president of Local 6020, said Gelin’s “track record has fostered an atmosphere of hatred toward law enforcement, which is not good for the community.”
Gomez, according to the union, “will ensure the city has professionalism at the helm and fosters a respect for law enforcement that focuses on keeping the residents safe.”
Local 6020 has also endorsed Joseph Lanouette as Tamarac commissioner for District 2.
Responding to the union’s statement Friday, Gelin said he has worked to bring the community and law enforcement together.
“During my term as City Commissioner and as a long-time resident of Tamarac, I have worked with law enforcement to ensure the safety of children and families in our great city. It is one of the most important functions of our government,” the vice mayor said.
“I have hosted events to foster communication and understanding between our law enforcement and our community, such as the Cops & Community Forum,” he added. “When residents were unhappy with the incidence of car thefts, I invited the police in to share what law enforcement was doing to keep our community safe, to share the low crime statistics, and to answer residents’ concerns firsthand.”
Gelin said he also organized a joint community bike ride with local law enforcement to give away 100 bikes and helmets to students in Tamarac.
“I have respect for law enforcement and will never waiver in my support of law enforcement and first responders,” Gelin said. “As mayor…I will continue my commitment to funding our first responders, ensuring training and equipment needs are met, and providing the necessary support, so our community remains one of the safest in Florida.”
Early voting in the November 8 general election is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Sunday, November 6.
- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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