Boynton Beach’s newest police chief Michael Gregory was sworn in Tuesday in front of a standing-room only crowd of officers, families and dignitaries.
Gregory, 51, was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, where he’s been part of that city’s police department since 1987, most recently as an assistant chief. Gregory replaces Jeffrey Katz, who retired as Boynton’s chief in December and is now the chief at the Chesterfield County Police Department in Virginia.
City Manager Lori LaVerriere chose Gregory over two other finalists among 83 applicants: Joe DeGiulio, an assistant chief with Boynton; and Kenneth Ferguson, who retired this year as chief of the Framingham, Mass., Police Department. All three had at least 20 years of law enforcement experience.
After he was sworn in at Tuesday’s ceremony, made official by his daughter pinning the badge on him, Gregory swore in seven new officers: Vladimir Alexis, Joshua Finch, Harold Hall, Alyssa Paciello, Sean Steele, Christopher Waiters and Gregory Wertman.
With these seven, Boynton now has 156 officers, said Stephanie Slater, the department’s spokeswoman.
The welcomings took place at the department’s quarterly awards ceremony, held at the Boynton Beach City Library, where the officers and city officials highlight some of the work that has been done over the past couple months.
Officers were honored for responding to auto burglaries, accompanying special needs students to prom and treating a pregnant woman who had been shot in the chest, and three were given more distinguished awards.
Crime Scene Investigator Tina Stidham was named Civilian of the Quarter for her “can do” attitude and work ethic. She came to Boynton about two years ago from the Boca Raton Police Department in search of a busier job. In her first weekend with Boynton, Stidham was called to three homicides. She has built a reputation as one of the “brightest, happiest, most capable and competent employees” in the department, said Captain Matthew Zeller.
Zeller named Kyndra Strong, an investigator, Detective of the Quarter. She recently obtained arrest warrants for two people suspected of stealing liquor from stores, and participated in a reverse prostitution operation by going undercover, helping arrest two men for solicitation of prostitution. Zeller called her a “team player.”
Matthew Bundrick was given the Officer of the Quarter award for investigating auto burglaries, of which the city saw an increase in April and May. In June, he was with a group of officers who arrested four juveniles in a stolen vehicle and recognized one as a person of interest in two auto burglary cases he was working. He got a confession, and information that helped officers identify seven others suspected of breaking into cars countywide. Bundrick was complimented for his “diligence” and “doggedness.”
While the attention was mainly on the officers and the department’s new chief, the group took time out to focus on a resident who helped them make an arrest in an April hit-and-run case.
Anthony Dechiaro was given the Citizen Commendation award. Dechiaro saw the April 25 crash happen at Old Boynton Road and Congress Avenue and was checking on everyone at the scene when the driver ran away. Dechiaro, who ended up being late to work that day, gave a description of the man to police. An off-duty Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent followed the driver and, with the help of officers, took him into custody. Dechiaro told police the person in custody was the driver. Zeller said he went “above and beyond” by staying at the scene, helping police, and even hugging a woman who was injured in the crash.
Follow Boynton Beach reporter Alexandra Seltzer on Twitter at @alexseltzer