and Assistant Chief Jeffrey Goldman at their Delray Beach headquarters.
Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Rich Pollack
They came up through the ranks together, one joining the Delray Beach police in May 1989, the other joining less than a month later.
Now Police Chief Tony Strianese, 54, who has spent the last six years at the helm of the department, is retiring and he’s passing the figurative baton to his longtime colleague, Assistant Chief Jeff Goldman, 45, who will become Delray’s new police chief Sept. 1.
The choice of Goldman to succeed his longtime friend and mentor comes as no surprise to those who know the two veteran law-enforcement professionals. Strianese has been preparing Goldman to be a police chief — whether in Delray or anywhere else — for years, helping him learn the finer points of being a successful leader in an organization with more than 225 employees.
“Jeff has the skills to be a good police chief,” Strianese said. “He’s got the local knowledge and he’s got the people skills. His greatest strength is his attention to detail.”
Strianese is not sure what he’s going to do next, but says he’s probably going to relax for a while and then go back to work. “Whatever I do next for work, it’s going to have to be fun,” he said.
Work for Strianese has involved paying attention to details — a hallmark of Strianese’s management style that helped him as he led the department during a down economy in which departments throughout the city worked to maintain the same level of service with limited resources.
“As a whole, our department weathered the storm,” Strianese said. “A lot of our people stepped up to the plate and we didn’t miss a beat. We were able to do a lot more with less.”
Although it would have been easy to jettison programs that didn’t directly correlate to the department’s primary mission of reducing crime, Strianese and his senior leadership team maintained a commitment to youth programs and to a community-policing program aimed at being proactive rather than reactive.
The department continued its support of the Law Enforcement Academy, which it runs in conjunction with Atlantic High School, and maintained a strong Police Explorer program.
To help weather tough economic times, when falling home prices led to reduced tax revenues for cities such as Delray Beach, the department harnessed technology by introducing a software system that streamlined the reporting process, making it more efficient and timely.
Under Strianese’s leadership, the department also used technology in its intelligence-led policing initiative, which uses information culled through detailed analysis of crimes and other information to ensure that resources are deployed effectively.
The department now has a criminal intelligence unit, made up of two detectives and two civilian analysts, who focus efforts on studying trends and information gathered through community policing to prevent crime.
Over the years, the Delray Beach Police Department has garnered a reputation for professionalism, and Strianese has been a big proponent of ensuring the work force is well-educated.
The majority of officers have bachelor’s degrees and command-staff members are all required to have master’s degrees.
Goldman, who started at the Delray Beach Police Department when he was 20 and earned his master’s degree in criminal justice from Florida International University, says he will continue to build on the programs that Strianese put in place and hopes to add to them.
A student of leadership, Goldman is transitioning into the chief’s position with a set of values under the acronym of LEAD — Learning, Excellence, Accountability and Diversity.
“We need to be accountable to our community and to our mission, which is to ensure public safety,” he said.
In coming months, Goldman will focus on priorities that include increasing the department’s work force to keep up with the city’s growth, increasing the use of information technology and building relationships with the community to help tear down barriers between police officers and the people they serve.
Goldman, who was born in South Florida, grew up here and is now raising two teenagers with his wife, plans to become even more visible in the community.
“I believe your police chief needs to be accessible,” he said.
Goldman says he remembers what Strianese said when he first took over the department.
“I remember him saying he was honored and humbled,” Goldman said. “For me, being able to lead an agency you call home is an honor but it is also humbling.”
Delray Beach Police History
Nov. 1, 1911 — Town of Delray incorporated with a marshal authorized to keep the peace. He also served as the tax collector. The first marshal was J. M. Walker who served until 1916.
1912-1926 – Town had seven marshals during this period, including: Walker, J.W. Ramsey, Earl Harvel, A.F. Miller, Lee Milton and W.M. Croft. In 1918, the Town Council agreed to buy a police cap for the marshal while the purchase of a revolver was set aside for further consideration.
1927 — Referendum held, town of Delray and town of Delray Beach merge to form city of Delray Beach. W.M. Croft stayed on to become city’s first police chief. He left in 1931.
1932-1933 — Jesse C. Johnson was the second police chief.
1933-1934 — R.V. Priest became the third police chief.
1934-1937 — Charles Lamb was the fourth police chief.
1937-1938 — M.D. Morris became the fifth police chief.
1938-1943 — A.F. Nelson served as the city’s sixth police chief. In 1942, police and fire were combined and neither division had a radio. A red light on top of the building would signal to officers on the road that a call was coming in. There were no police dispatchers.
1943-1972 — R.C. Croft served as the seventh police chief, retiring April 30, 1972.
1950s — Department consisted of five men, one patrol car, two cameras and one man in the detective bureau. City had 6,000 residents.
December 1969 — Department had 32 officers.
1972-1974 — James S. Grantham served as police chief, retiring on June 14, 1974, after 33 years of service. He received from the city: a luggage set, Delray Beach history book and other items. He received a camera from his co-workers.
January 1974 — Starting salary was $8,710.
July 1974 — Murray O. Cochran was named police chief.
Aug. 10, 1974 — Officer John D. Kennedy became the city’s first officer killed in the line of duty. Willie Simpson was convicted in 1977 of Kennedy’s murder.
Nov. 30, 1978 — Committee investigating alleged racial problems delivers report to city officials. Department had 67 sworn officers.
March 2, 1979 — Cochran retired after 4.5 years as Delray Beach chief. In February, the chairman of the county chapter of the ACLU criticized the city council for its silence regarding the racial tensions engulfing the department.
1979-1990 — Charles L. Kilgore served as police chief.
November 1981 — City created a 12-member Human Relations Committee after a Nov. 4 fracas between several officers and two brothers. The fight drew a crowd of about 200 at NW Ninth and Atlantic avenues.
April 18, 1984 — K-9 Cello died on veterinarian’s operating table from internal injuries sustained while catching two burglary suspects.
Sept. 14, 1986 — The Rev. G.L. Champion told Chief Kilgore that blacks don’t trust white officers and accused the chief of treating the problem like a “wild, wild west shootout.”
June 1987 — Kilgore elected third vice president for the Florida Police Chiefs Association. He became chief in 1979, started working with the department in 1952. Saw force grow from 12 to 171 officers.
Oct. 31, 1990 — Kilgore retired under pressure from the City Commission, received $90,000 to walk away but refused to sign last evaluation. Maj. Rick Lincoln named acting chief.
May 14, 1991 — More than a year after allegations of civil rights violations, corruption and cover-ups involving police, a 22-page report released by Gov. Lawton Chiles’ office said there wasn’t enough evidence to file criminal charges in any of the allegations.
August 1991 — At least five black police officers filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that lucrative off-duty work was being offered exclusively to white officers.
Oct. 7 1991 — Department had 210 employees with 130 sworn officers. Richard Overman, a former Orlando police major, named Delray Beach police chief despite not being on the advisory committee’s finalist list. He started the city’s first Haitian Citizens Police Academy with instruction in Creole.
March 1992 — Community policing expanded to 11 officers who walk or bike their beats.
May 14, 1992 — Twenty-two residents graduated in the first class of the Delray Beach Police Department Citizens Police Academy.
Sept. 23, 1992 — First Delray Beach Citizens Observer Patrol started in Tropic Harbor development.
Jan. 22, 1993 — Temporary traffic barrier installed on Southwest Ninth Avenue, a half block south of Atlantic Avenue, to thwart drug sales.
October, 1993 — Police had 135 officers on its force.
April 11, 1994 — City Commission spent $150,000 to put eight officers on foot patrol on West Atlantic Avenue, between the Interstate and Swinton Avenue.
March 19, 1996 — Six black police officers were awarded $760,000 from a federal jury that accepted their claims that racism inside the department left them emotionally wrecked and financially deprived. The claims were initiated six years before.
June 1997 — Department’s Citizen Observer Patrol had 1,000 volunteers in 22 neighborhoods.
Oct. 21, 1997 — Chief Overman carried his service revolver into the courthouse to meet a judge, violating a long-standing policy that bars weapons in the courthouse.
October 2000 — Starting salary for police officer was $30,900; those with bachelor degrees earn extra $2,000. Of 156 officer positions in the department, only 127 were filled.
Aug. 17, 2001 — Overman retired, replaced by department insider Maj. Joseph Larry Schroeder. Overman remained as a consultant until Oct. 6.
Aug. 20, 2002 — Chief Schroeder named officer of the month in Delray Beach for his role in helping an off-duty rookie officer recover from a car accident.
Dec. 13, 2005 — City’s first police advisory board created with 11 members chosen by the city commission.
June 30, 2008 — Schroeder retired, replaced by department insider Maj. Anthony Strianese, who started July 1.
Sept. 1, 2014— Assistant chief Jeff Goldman to replaces Strianese, who plans to retire. The department averages about 150 sworn officers and more than 70 civilian employees.
—Compiled by Jane Smith
Sources: Delray Beach Historical Society, local newspaper archives