Monday, June 24, 2013

Bradenton PD wins honor for neighborhood liaison project

Left to Right (provided photo):
Amy Mercer (Executive Director, FCPA), Star and Shield Group CEO Allen Durham, Captain William Fowler, Tami Spyker (Neighborhood Watch Liaison), Chief of Police Michael Radzilowski, and Chief of Police Dennis Jones (Tallahassee PD and FCPA Immediate Past President) in Bonita Springs.

The City of Bradenton Police Department has received the “Rocky Pomerance Law Enforcement Excellence Award” based on the department’s Neighborhood Liaison Communication Project, The Florida Police Chiefs Association and Star & Shield Group Inc. announced.

The award recognizes outstanding community policing initiatives by small, medium and large law enforcement agencies statewide.

The “Rocky Pomerance Law Enforcement Excellence Award” provides a mechanism for the Florida Police Chiefs Association to recognize member agencies for developing and implementing an innovative approach to policing, according to the release. This award was named for Chief of Police (Ret.) Rocky Pomerance, who has been recognized as exemplifying the image of an innovative and visionary leader who furthered the mission of the Florida Police Chiefs Association and the law enforcement profession within Florida.

The three awards this year:
  1. Large Agency (76 Sworn Officers or More) – City of Bradenton Police Department, Bradenton.
  2. Medium Agency (31 – 75 Sworn Officers) – Lighthouse Point Police Department, Lighthouse Point
  3. Small Agency (1 – 30 Sworn Officers) – Santa Fe Community College Police Department, Gainesville

Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski issued this statement:

“I am very proud of our Neighborhood Liaison Communication Project, and the rapport that it has developed between the Bradenton Police Officers and the residents, this has helped foster the ongoing respect and feeling of teamwork resulting in collateral changes in the target areas including, businesses increased by 17%, home sales increased by 41%, and the crime rate has dropped by 28.8%.

The citizens expressed that their efforts were effective in reducing crime, thereby reducing fear, and increasing the feeling of safety, ownership and teamwork alongside the members of the Bradenton Police Department. This collaborative effort has saved the Bradenton Police Department in excess of 6,000 man-hours and $200,000.00 in taxpayer monies.”

The award ceremony was held last week at the FCPA’s 61st Annual Summer Training Conference and Exposition Banquet in Bonita Springs. Radzilowski, Capt. William Fowler and Tami Spyker, a resident who serves as the Neighborhood Watch Liaison for West Bradenton, attended.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Robert Taylor's arrest report

By Laura C. Morel
Crime/Immigration Reporter

For four days now, I've been reporting the second-degree murder trial of Robert Taylor, an ex-deputy accused of killing his 63-year-old wife.

Both the defense and state have questioned homicide detectives on the factors that made them suspicious of Pamela Taylor's sudden death in September 2008.

Factors include the existence of two life insurance policies that Taylor failed to mention to detectives early on in the investigation, possible domestic abuse at the Taylor home and the changes Taylor made in his story as detectives continued to grill him with questions.

If you're interested in more information, here's the February 2011 arrest report:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Retired Manatee deputy on trial in wife's slaying

Laura Morel is covering the trial this week of Robert Taylor, a retired Manatee corrections deputy accused of killing his wife nearly four years ago. Today's update brings more testimony from prosecution witnesses.

Read more here:

If found guilty, he could face life in prison. Check back here and in Friday's Bradenton Herald for the latest.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

DEA nationwide take-back is this month

By Laura C. Morel
Crime/Immigration Reporter

Got prescription drugs? The DEA will take them off your hands.

The Drug Enforcement Administration will hold its fourth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day throughout the country April 28.

People with unwanted prescription drugs will be able to turn them into law enforcement at different locations for free. No questions will be asked and they can remain anonymous.

Since the DEA launched this initiative, nearly 1 million pounds of prescription drugs have been collected.

Fun fact: more Americans abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined, according to a media release.

There are Take-Back locations in Manatee and Sarasota counties. To find one near you, click here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

From crime scenes to cookoffs

By Laura C. Morel

From Tuesday through Friday, I'm the crime and immigration reporter for the Bradenton Herald.

But Saturday is my wildcard. I cover, well, everything else, including parades, festivals, fairs, rallies, contests, and the list goes on.

Food fests are also a big chunk of my Saturday coverage.

Today, I was the lucky reporter who covered the Gulf Coast Rhythm & Ribfest, which includes a barbecue ribs cookoff with both local and out-of-state cooks. I interviewed barbecue enthusiasts about their secrets to a good rib and a tasty sauce. Time and patience seemed to be key ingredients.

After two hours of interviews, I smelled like barbecue.

Earlier this month, I covered the annual Seafood Festival.

In late February, I covered the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival. Food for sale included squid fries (delicious!) and smoked mullet.

And in the beginning of the year, I was among 12 teams of cooks who whispered to their team members so their opponents wouldn’t hear their beef brisket secrets.

The irony of it all? I can't even cook.
Read more here:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bradenton deputy chief walking into sunset

By Laura C. Morel
Crime/Immigration Reporter

Bradenton police Deputy Chief Jeffrey Lewis
at the luncheon on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, I interviewed Bradenton police Deputy Chief Jeffrey Lewis about his 27-year career at the department.

His retirement was coming up and he hoped to exit without much fuss from his colleagues.

“I would just like to say my goodbyes and take one good look around and just walk off into the sunset,” Lewis told me during the interview.

On Tuesday, the department held a small luncheon for the veteran police officer at the Kingdom of Life Church in Bradenton. 

Among those attending were Bradenton's police chief Michael Radzilowski and mayor Wayne Poston.

Lewis will walk into the sunset Saturday, March 31, his last day at the department.

Read more here:

Statement by missing Bradenton woman's family

By Laura C. Morel
Crime/Immigration Reporter

After the DNA from a severed leg that washed ashore in St. Petersburg matched that of Kelly Moriarty, a missing Bradenton woman, her family released a statement to the media.

Moriarty's disappearance is a case that crosses several counties and includes another missing woman, her girlfriend, Plant City resident Doris Carter.

Authorities are now focusing on the "missing pieces of this puzzle," as Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokesman Det. Larry McKinnon described the case Wednesday. The pieces include: authorities haven’t found a crime scene, the location of the rest of Moriarty’s remains is unknown, and Carter is still missing.

I'm now trying to find out as much as I can about the two women. If you are friends with either Moriarty or Carter, please give me a call, 941-745-7041, or email me at

Here's the full statement released by the Moriarty family:

Moriarty Statement