Home' South Florida Gay News : SFGN 010616 Contents 30 • 01.06.2016
4 • January 6, 2016
By Michael d’Oliveira
For the second year in a row, Wilton
Manors has gotten a perfect 100 from the
Human Rights Campaign [HRC].
“We’re really proud to be recognized by
the HRC. It’s not something that’s happened
without a great deal of thoughtfulness
and effort,” said City Manager Leigh Ann
Henderson. Wilton Manors is one of only
three Florida cities to get a perfect HRC score;
Orlando and St. Petersburg were the others.
The city got 89 standard points and 16 bonus
points. HRC only counts a maximum of 100
points. Fort Lauderdale got an overall score
of 80 and Oakland Park an 86.
The HRC evaluated 408 municipalities
nationwide and scored them based on how
LGBT friendly their policies are.
Categories include non-discrimination
practices, how welcoming the city is to LGBT
individuals, the availability of transgender
health benefits and the existence of an LGBT
police liaison or task force.
It’s that last category, where the city got
5 out of 10 points, that Chief Paul O'Connell
was critical of.
“After review of the criteria I have to
respectfully disagree with their “cookie
cutter” assessment of WMPD. A police
department of our size serving a small
community of our size does not have the
luxury of dedicating one sworn position
to this important, but limited, task. In the
alternative, WMPD does have a full-time
Community Police Officer assigned to the
entire community . . . straight, LGBT, black,
brown & white, young and elder,” wrote
O'Connell in an email.
Henderson agreed with O’Connell. “I
think, being a small city, that’s really the only
way we can do it.”
According to Henderson, Wilton Manors’
score was a combination of an initial
evaluation by the HRC and feedback by the
city. “We were able to identify some areas
[HRC gave us a lesser score on] and increase
our points where we underscored. It gave us
an opportunity to reflect a score that better
reflects our policies.” The city’s original score
was 98; 84 standard points and 14 bonus
Other points lost by the city were for not
offering transgender-inclusive healthcare
benefits to city employees, something
Deanna Muniz, the parent of a transgender
child, pleaded with commissioners to add.
Muniz, who lives in Sunrise, asked
commissioners to add the benefits during
their Dec. 8 meeting. “I have other children
and I can take them to the doctor and there’s
no issues. With my son there’s a lot of layers.
It’s very difficult to tell my son, ‘Your sister
can go to the doctor but you might need
alternative care or our insurance doesn’t
cover your care.’ It’s just a reminder that he’s
Resident Michael Rajner also supported
adding the benefits and said the city already
covers HIV and AIDS-related healthcare,
“which is more expensive” than transgender
procedures. “There’s no Ryan White-like
program to cover [transgender healthcare],”
Recently, Commissioner Julie Carson
advocated the city take a look at adding
the benefits but commissioners have yet to
make a decision. Henderson said the issue
is being researched by the Human Resources
Department and could come back to the
commission by late January or early February.
An initial estimate by Dio Sanchez, director
of Human Resources, puts the total cost of a
transgender procedure at about $75,000. The
city could budget money specifically for that
purpose or add it to their policy.
Attempts to contact the HRC were
unsuccessful because the organization’s
offices were closed for the holiday break.
Wilton Manors Gets
Perfect HRC Score
Suicide by cop. It’s a phrase Wilton
Manors Police Chief Paul O’Connell doesn’t
But when Thomas Carberry intentionally
provoked Sgt. Rick Shawver into suicide by
cop on Sept. 7, 2014, O’Connell takes comfort
in the fact that no one else died.
For his actions, Shawver has been named
the “Officer of the Year” by the Broward
County Chiefs of Police.
“As officers responded to the area they
were advised by the frightened caller that the
subject has fired gunshots into his home, he
was fearful that the subject would shoot him
and that he had barricaded himself and his
roommate in the bathroom of their home. In
a nutshell, this was an “active shooter” call,”
wrote O’Connell in his letter nominating
Shawver for the award.
O’Connell praised Shawver for his tactical
expertise, calm presence and leadership of
the less experienced officers on the scene.
“It was ‘follow me;’ the very essence of
leadership on the line.
The armed subject subsequently made a
decision that compelled officers to discharge
their firearms to stop the threat.”
In June of 2015, the grand jury determined
the shooting was justified.
Shawver declined a request to be
“If you know Rick he is a humble guy
that wants no spotlight to be placed upon
himself. Rather, he just enjoys coming in
and accomplishing the mission our PD sets
out to achieve each and every day,” wrote
Commander Gary Blocker.
“I think his entire acceptance speech
given yesterday (Dec. 3) was one sentence.
Indeed . . . very humble!” wrote O’Connell.
In his nomination letter, O’Connell also
cited Shawver in helping a single mother
bring her home up to code and avoid fines.
“He recruited members of our department
who volunteered their services on their
‘off time’ to paint the house and make all
necessary repairs to achieve compliance.”
O’Connell said Shawver is an example of a
word people often forget when talking about
Earlier in his career, Shawver was named
the 1987 Officer of the Year in Lauderdale-
By-The-Sea. According to a Sun Sentinel
article published at the time, he received the
award for rescuing a woman from a burning
“He’s a local kid that grew up in a town
with tremendous aptitude for the job, and his
dedication is making him realize every ounce
of that aptitude,” said former Lauderdale-By-
The-Sea Police Chief Joseph Fitzgerald in the
Wilton Manors Sergeant
Named Officer of the Year
By Michael d’Oliveira
The former SunTrust Bank on Northeast
26 Street was purchased in 2015 by
A spokesperson for MIGLOBAL, which
designs and builds hospitals, dialysis
centers and other medical facilities, said
the company has not decided yet how
the building or property will be used.
MIGLOBAL, a company located in the
United States and Central and South
America, already has offices in Fort
Lauderdale. MIGLOBAL purchased the
property in September from Unity Church
which moved to Fort Lauderdale.
According to Wilton Manors From
Farming Community to Urban Village,
written by Wilton Manors Historical Society
Secretary Benjamin Little, the 3.27-acre
property was built in 1955 as the Wilton
Manors National Bank and later became a
SunTrust sold the property to New
Urban Communities in 2005. New Urban
had hoped to build 61 apartments and
6,648 square feet of commercial space in
a mixed-use development but plans never
materialized. New Urban sold it to Unity
Church in 2012. WMG
Medical Company Purchases
Old SunTrust Bank
By Michael d’Oliveira
Chief critical of “cookie cutter assessment of WMPD”
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