El Jefe

Coconut Creek Cop James Yacobellis Earned $110K for Not Working, Town's Apathy to Blame

Taxpayers have shelled out more than $110K to Coconut Creek cop James Yacobellis for not working during a 1.5 year suspension.

In the end, the department decided he should have turned on his siren while chasing a couple of pot-smoking kids.

I am not kidding. Coconut Creek taxpayers got screwed. No police protection from this guy, but they paid him more than what three elementary-school teachers get annually.

The Sun Sentinel quoted Coconut Creek Police Chief James Mann as saying, "[The investigation] took much longer than we thought it would ever take."

I say it's time for Coconut Creek to take action.

The culprits here are city leaders, who have a rule not to investigate officers until prosecutors make a decision. They threw away your damned money.

But wait. The problem goes even deeper. Coconut Creek citizens and voters don't seem to care much. Elections are coming up March 12, and almost nobody bothered to run. Two commissioners -- Lisa Aronson and Nikkie Belvedere -- have already been reelected because no one registered to run against them, according to a clerk I spoke with this morning.

The good news: Mayor Marilyn Gerber has stepped down, and three candidates are running for her seat. Voters in this central Broward town, which bills itself as the "butterfly capital of the world," can maybe elect somebody who plans to clean house.

Suspend your cops without pay next time. And hurry up the investigation. Incompetence is just not acceptable.

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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse