BRADENTON, Fla. -- Two incidents that Chief Michael Radzilowski termed "exceptional performance" have led Radzilowski to name Officer Adam Wollard the Bradenton Police Department's Officer of the Month of November.
The incidents also show that Wollard has matured from an earlier mistake he made, Radzilowski said.
Between Nov. 27, 2010, and July 11, 2013, Wollard improperly used the state of Florida's Driver and Vehicle Information Database, or DAVID, and was suspended for a month by the Bradenton Police Department, Radzilowski said.
"The infractions happened years ago, he was counseled about it and we took action," Radzilowski said. "Ever since Adam was talked to about it, we have had no repeat activity," Wollard told Bradenton police investigators he used the database to put "faces to names," since he was a new officer. Wollard also looked up some NFL football players, the investigation revealed.
"I am aware of the correct terms of usage for the DAVID database," Wollard wrote in a July 15, 2013, report to his superiors. "However, I have run several subjects through DAVID for no other reason than curiosity, including athletes, officers and other persons of interest. This occurred approximately two years ago."
Access to DAVID is limited to authorized personnel and can only be used for the purposes for which authorization is granted, according to Maureen Johnson, chief of Motorist Services, Bureau of Records.
"Listen, I have been in this business almost 45 years and I've learned that everyone makes mistakes," Radzilowski said when asked to explain how Wollard could be disciplined and lauded in a shorttime span. "Young officers make mistakes. Believe it or not, I make mistakes. We learn from our mistakes and keep on trucking. We try to use discipline to teach and train and put them back on the right road. If it is serious enough, we have no hesitation to fire officers."
Wollard has shown increased discipline since his mistake with DAVID, Radzilowski added.
In the first incident for which he was lauded, Wollard helped the Palmetto Police Department make contact with the right person because he knew there were two Neri brothers from Bradenton who had similar first names, which the Palmetto Police did not, said Kelly Carr, a crime analyst with the Bradenton Police Department.
Because the brothers live in his "beat" area, Wollard realized authorities were probably looking for the wrong brother, Carr added.
"Once knowing there were brothers with similar names, birth certificates and Social Security numbers were able to be obtained for each brother for better identification since they have been known to give each other's information," Carr added.
It turns out the Palmetto Police were looking for Eric P. Neri for questioning concerning a shooting, not his younger brother who was identified on the first intelligence reports, Carr said.
"Thank you so very much for knowing your district and its residents so well and for providing valuable assistance to these investigations," Carr wrote in a report that went into Wollard's file.
The second incident for which Wollard performed in stellar fashion involved the victim of a recent felony that occurred in Bradenton who was unresponsive at Blake Medical Center and had no identification when he was brought in, according to Sgt. John Negron of the Bradenton Police Department, who nominated Wollard for the Officer of the Month honor.
Wollard noticed that the victim had some distinctive tattoos and took photographs of them so he could show them to residents in his district, Negron noted in his report.
By hitting the streets, Wollard was able to get the identity of the victim and was able to contact the victim's mother who was then able to be with her son while he recovered in the Intensive Care Unit, Negron reported.
"He knows the people on his beat and they know him," Radzilowski said of the Neri and tattoo incidents. "These are good examples of what we call community policing. It's a partnership in the community. We wouldn't trade Adam. He is one of our most outstanding officers."
Copyright 2013 - The Bradenton Herald
McClatchy-Tribune News Service