David Hebert: Gretsas' boot on the Police Department's neck

David Hebert and Fort Lauderdale Police Department organizational chart

David Hebert: From P.R. to P.D. in just
11 short months — thanks to Gretsas

"There's a lot of inexperienced staff that was brought on board," complained Commissioner Bruce Roberts in his Get Rid of Gretsas speech Nov. 17, 2009. He specifically cited, although not by name, David Hebert, "the Assistant City Manager in charge of public safety."

What police-related qualifications did Hebert have before being placed in charge of the Police Department?

None that I can see.

He got a degree in education and a degree in law, ran a political campaign and became a PR flack for his winning candidate. He quit that job after 10 years, got hired as a PR flack for Gretsas five months later and — BAM! ZOOM! — 11 months after that he's appointed the Police Chief's Executive Officer — apparently his first police job. That appointment wasn't made by then Police Chief Roberts — it was made by Gretsas.

That new job must have given Hebert some really good on-the-job training, because five months later he was made Assistant City Manager for Public Safety. Now he's in charge of nearly 500 police officers and hundreds of Police Department employees — not to mention the whole Fire Department and more. What's wrong with that picture?

Clearly Gretsas was more interested in exerting tight control over the Police Department than in running a top-notch, professional police force. He wanted a boot on the Police Department's neck, and David Hebert is it.

Hebert is known for his loyalty to his bosses. The Westchester CitizeNetReporter called Hebert one of the most loyal "operatives" for his former boss, Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro. And the District Attorney herself called Hebert's loyalty "without equal."

 

David Hebert chairs a crime committee meeting

Hebert, right, runs the June 2009 Harbordale/Poinciana Park Crime Committee meeting in City Hall. He's watching as Major Raul Diaz, left, delivers a report and Poinciana Park President Ray Dettmann listens.

 

"Micromanagement and intimidation are the order of the day," departing Chief Roberts wrote in his 2008 resignation letter. "A suffocating atmosphere demanding a personal allegiance [to Gretsas] preoccupies decisions, which will have harmful consequences for public safety, and police officers' careers will be destroyed."

The old City Commission took a "See No Evil" position on Roberts' letter. As the Sun-Sentinel's Michael Mayo put it:

"At the very least, the commission should try to get to the bottom of Roberts' assertions. After all, this wasn't some anonymous flame on an Internet message board. This was a signed letter from a 35-year public servant, a chief known for professionalism and integrity. Instead of investigating further, commissioners seem content to drink the Gretsas Kool-Aid. ... They don't even want to bother sorting out the facts."

Just the kind of leadership we don't need.

The new City Commission has voted not to renew Gretsas' contract. If Mayor Jack Seiler stands firm, the Dark Days of Gretsas will come to an end — and not a minute too soon.

– Cal Deal

David Hebert, Mouthpiece for George Gretsas
David Hebert, Gretsas' Mouthpiece

George Gretsas: DEAD LAST on leadership test
George Gretsas: DEAD LAST on leadership test.

Heberts background All police hat & no bullets

1992: David Herbert is a law student at Pace University Law School. He's on the board of the Law Review. (He reportedly has a master's degree in education from Texas A&M, too.)

1993: Hebert runs the campaign of Jeanine Pirro, who is elected District Attorney of Westchester County, NY, according to The New York Times. (It is not known whether "lawyer" Hebert ever had an actual law office. If he did, it's not mentioned anywhere.)

1994 to 2004: Hebert works as Pirro's public information spokesman, according to The New York Times (technically he was an "Executive Assistant D.A."). Hebert is described as "one of ... Pirro's most trusted, loyal and efficient operatives" by The White Plains CitizeNetReporter. One of Hebert's critics is attorney Jonathan Lovett, who says in May 2004, "I do exactly what people like Hebert and Pirro detest: I speak my mind. They wrap themselves in the flag and denounce me."

April 2004: Hebert resigns abruptly "'for personal reasons, much to the shock of the District Attorney," and says he is moving to Florida. "Hebert ... was paid more than the District Attorney herself." [White Plains CitizeNetReporter. Click to read story.]

May 18, 2004: The Fort Lauderdale City Commission hires Gretsas — who scores DEAD LAST on leadership skills among the finalists. The top scorer got 90%; Gretsas got 33%. [Click here to read more on that.]

August 2, 2004: Gretsas begins work as Fort Lauderdale City Manager.

September 28, 2004: Gretsas hires Hebert to be his Public Information Officer.

August 2005: Gretsas makes city "spokesman" Hebert the Police Chief's Executive Officer, rejecting Chief Roberts' choice of Captain Al Ortenzo, who was retiring. Gretsas gets a ruling from City Attorney Harry Stewart, who says it isn't legal to rehire a retired employee, even though that had been the practice.

January 18, 2006: Gretsas gets 5-0 City Commission approval to create an Assistant City Manager for Public Safety. He names Hebert to the slot — which puts "Spokesman" Hebert in charge of the Police and Fire Departments and all city emergency management personnel. [None of the existing Commission members were part of that 5-0 vote. It was Naugle, Trantalis, Teel, Moore and Hutchinson.]

April 29, 2008: Hebert gets a new two-year contract.

New York Times refers to Hebert as "a spokesman"

Hebert was the Westchester, New York D.A.'s spokesman for 10 years before coming to Fort Lauderdale in 1994.
These listings are samples from The New York Times archive:David Hebert in New York Times archive 1

David Hebert in New York Times archive 2

 

1992 — Two years before becoming the D.A.'s "spokesman,"
Hebert is a "research and writing editor" on the Pace Law Review

David Hebert in Pace Law School 1992

FortLauderdaleObserver.com

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