BRADENTON -- Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski is recommending termination of his embattled deputy chief in a 26-page summary he released Monday of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office investigation into charges of impropriety.
"I simply no longer have any confidence in Deputy Chief Merriman's ability to serve BPD (Bradenton Police Department) effectively," Radzilowski wrote in a letter addressed to Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston. "Termination of Deputy Chief Warren T. Merriman III's employment with BPD is therefore appropriate."
Merriman, a 17-year BPD veteran, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of petty theft Oct. 23 after weeks of investigation. The allegations against him became public Sept. 8 when the city placed Merriman on paid administrative leave.
He has maintained his innocence.
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office, which conducted the review, turned over its investigation to Radzilowski last week.
Reached by phone Monday evening, Radzilowski said he could not comment because there is still a possible name-clearing hearing to be held in connection with the case.
A call to Merriman's attorney was not returned as of press time Monday and calls to Poston were not returned.
The document Radzilowski released lists 12 incidents where BPD procedural violations occurred. The report details the following allegations:
Incident 1: On Dec. 14, 2012, then-Capt. Merriman summoned Sgt. William Knight to his home to assist in putting together a pre-fabricated storage shed. Knight asked Merriman about using compensatory time due to working on the shed while on duty and Merriman said there was no need for that.
Incident 2: Late in 2012, Merriman summoned Knight to his home to help him move a large desk, an old television and help connect a DVD player to a new television. Knight asked Merriman what to do with his work hours and was told to remain on duty. Merriman testified this never occurred.
Incident 3: On July 19, 2013, Merriman spoke with Officer Brandon Smolarz and offered him one of the open police dog handler positions if Smolarz used the real estate services of Merriman's wife to purchase a new home. In the end, Smolarz didn't buy a home and didn't receive the handler position.
Incident 4: On July 29, 2013, Merriman left an off-duty security detail at McKechnie Field to attend a BPD-associated crime prevention function at Bradenton Municipal Auditorium. He charged the Pittsburgh Pirates organization for the one hour he was away from the game.
Incident 5: On Feb. 25, Merriman left an off-duty security detail at McKechnie Field prior to the end of his shift to play in a tennis league match at G.T. Bray Park. Merriman contacted Knight to cover the end of the shift and Knight worked from 6:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. Merriman had pre-signed the invoice, which was completed by Knight. The following day, Knight used white-out to remove the end time from the pay sheet, but Merriman completed it, listing his end time as 9 p.m.
Incident 6: On May 8, Merriman used a department vehicle assigned to Parking and Property Supervisor Jacob Zaagman to transport a dishwasher to his home. When Zaagman called Merriman to ask about the vehicle's whereabouts, Merriman said he was "test driving" it. Merriman denies saying that.
Incident 7: On May 8, Merriman summoned Greg Price to his home to install the dishwasher. Price testified he was on duty during the installation, which was completed in about 1 1/2 hours.
Incident 8: On July 3, Merriman took an online test through Saint Leo University with two civilian BPD employees as proctors to sit in during the exam. Parking and Property Supervisor Jacob Zaagman and BPD IT specialist Joseph Schmitz testified they helped Merriman with most of the exam questions.
Incident 9: This year, Merriman directed BPD Fleet Coordinator Charles Standifer to use his department vehicle to deliver a file cabinet to his home. Standifer could not remember the date, but said he was on duty at the time.
"The actions by Deputy Chief Merriman in this incident continue the pattern developed throughout this investigation," Radzilowski wrote in the letter. "The fact that Deputy Chief Merriman admits to asking a subordinate to perform personal errands for him while that employee is on duty is sadly no longer surprising."
Incident 10: Sometime this year, Merriman asked Standifer to transport a bed from Merriman's home to his father-in-law's home in northwest Bradenton.
Incident 11: Sometime this year, Merriman asked Standifer to use his department vehicle to pick up a big screen television from his home and deliver it to Goodwill. Merriman admitted in sworn testimony he had Standifer come and pick up a television but denied he wanted it delivered to Goodwill. He said he wanted it donated to the City Yard break area.
Incident 12: The last incident focuses on Merriman's conduct during the investigation. Radzilowski found Merriman's violations on two counts -- of conduct unbecoming and moral character -- were both sustained.
"The exhaustive investigation by MSO has established a well-documented pattern of personal privilege by Deputy Chief Merriman," Radzilowski wrote. "Many words rise from this investigation: Ethics, law, honesty, untruthfulness, abuse. It is difficult to explain which is most disturbing, as they all are. The actions by Deputy Chief Merriman are found to be egregious."
Twenty-seven of the 28 total counts were sustained.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.