Bradenton police deputy chief Warren Merriman formally terminated

BRADENTON -- Former Bradenton Police Deputy Chief Warren Merriman has been formally terminated in a letter sent to him by Police Chief Michael Radzilowski Friday.

Merriman declined to request his right to a name-clearing hearing by Monday's deadline given to him in a letter last month by mayor and police commissioner Wayne Poston. Instead, he submitted a 20-page written statement to the city's human resources department detailing his account for the circumstances surrounding the incidents.

Of 12 incidents for which Merriman was investigated, 27 of 28 charges of violating BPD procedures were sustained against him.

After reviewing Merriman's statement and with Mayor Poston's approval, Radzilowski sent him a termination letter.

"There being no further matters pending, and with the Mayor's approval, this letter will serve as notice that your employment with the City will end effective January 5, 2015," the letter said.

Calls to Merriman and Radzilowski for comment were not returned.

Merriman's statement will be placed in his personnel file, Radzilowski added.

In that 20-page statement, Merriman cited his time as the lieutenant over the de

partment's Internal Affairs and said that he had investigated several of his accusers or their friends.

"Between late May 2014 and July 2014, there were several agency members who told me that the P.B.A. Union was targeting me individually because they did not want me in the Deputy Chief position, especially if the Chief of Police was to retire unexpectedly," Merriman wrote.

Prior to his formal termination, Merriman had moved on to a position as a Realtor with Premier Sotheby's International Realty, according to his social media profiles. He has been a licensed Realtor since 2006, according to Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation records. Merriman is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 20 for a pretrial conference regarding the criminal charges he still faces. He has pleaded not guilty to all three counts.

The investigation into allegations against him became public Sept. 8 when the city placed him on paid administrative leave.

Merriman, a former 18-year veteran with the Bradenton Police Department, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of petit theft Oct. 23 after weeks of being the subject of an investigation. He is charged with submitting hours not completed during off-duty details and with asking a subordinate to help him with home projects or errands while on duty.

Because Merriman's rank placed him as supervising the Internal Affairs Division, Radzilowski asked the Manatee County Sheriff's Office to handle the investigation.

After filing criminal charges against Merriman, sheriff's investigators investigated whether Merriman had violated BPD administrative policies. On Dec. 11, the sheriff's office concluded its investigation and presented it to Radzilowski.

After review of the voluminous investigation records and making his findings, Radzilowski recommended to Poston that his second in command be terminated.

As deputy chief, Merriman is an "at-will" employee exempt from the grievance procedure that officers are afforded so he cannot dispute the charges. He did have a right to a name-clearing hearing or to make a written statement, not to challenge the reasons for dismissal but rather to allow him the opportunity to respond to the circumstances surrounding it.

Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.