Union: DBPD chief gift wraps nude sgt. to media while shielding supervisor who harassed her with 500 text messages

Daytona Beach PD's Internal Affairs / Headline Surfer
Teamsters Business Agent Bob Walker: 'They were engaged'

Ex-Daytona Beach Police Sgt. Penny Dane and at right, her former fiancé, Lt. Tommy Pera. Dane, claims Pera was harassing her with hundreds of text messages, even though they were married to other people. Pera has not returned calls for comment.

By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla -- There's the deeper story inside the sex scandal story that Daytona Beach Police Chief Michael Chitwood kept from the media in "gift wrapping the news" of the resignation of Sgt. Penny Dane.

So says the union head of the 46-year-old female sergeant who was forced out after admitting to posting online semi-nude photos of herself in uniform as well as nude shots onto a virtual adult sex network via city-owned computers while on duty.

Robert Walker, a retired Daytona Beach homicide cop who represents DBPD's rank-and-file police officers as business agent for Teamsters 385, said Chitwood "threw Sgt. Dane to the wolves" while protecting the man who prompted her to reach out to senior management in the first place, her former fiancé and lover, Lt. Tommy Pera.

"She told (investigators) they had been engaged and that she was repeatedly being harassed by him," Walker said of the deteriorating situation between Dane and Pera. "If he wasn't harassing her like Chitwood claims, then explain this: Why would a supervisor text a a subordinate 500 times when she's at home with her husband and he's supposedly at home with his wife? To exchange recipes?"

Robert Walker, head of Teamsters 385 for Daytona cops / Headline SurferHeadline Surfer photo / At left is Robert Walker, business agent for Teasters 385, the union which represents Daytona Beach PD's rank-and-file cops.

"She told (investigators) they had been engaged and that she was repeatedly being harassed by him," Walker said of the deteriorating situation between Dane and Pera. "If he wasn't harassing her like Chitwood claims, then explain this: Why would a supervisor text a a subordinate 500 times when she's at home with her husband and he's supposedly at home with his wife? To exchange recipes?"

Messages left Sunday evening by Headline Surfer for Pera through a phone conversation with Daytona Beach police patrol supervisor for Pera to call back went unanswered. Messages left with assigned PIO Jimmy Flynt and with Chitwood himself went unanswered, too.

The police chief was directly involved in feeding the media information about Dane's resignation with on-camera interviews Thursday and Friday with the Orlando TV stations and with the Daytona Beach News-Journal while Headline Surfer was left in the dark as was the New York Daily News, the latter which caught wind of the scandal through the online search engines.

Walker said internal affairs only learned of the photos by Dane herself when she filed a complaint, stating she was being harassed by Pera, an immediate supervisor and a former lover who was engaged to be married to her at one point. But Chitwood told the media outlets there was no merit to her complaint and none of the media organizations indicated whether his name was even disclosed by Chitwood.

Headline Surfer was bypassed by Chitwood who made himself available to the other media outlets with interviews and even reports on the nudity scandal. Chitwood took exception to a story published by Headline Surfer on May 12, 2012, headlined, "Daytona police chief promotes patrol supervisor who taunted female cop for more than a year."

Jim Newcomb, capt DBPD / Headline SurferJim Newcomb, shown here at left from his Facebook page, was promoted to captain by Chief Michael Chitwood last year, despite extensive allegations of sexual harassment of womern cops under his command. Newwcomb has not responded to Headline Surfer's attempts to get his side of the story.
 

The investigative story, under the investigative reports banner, "Daytona PD's Internal Affairs, detailed Chitwood's promotion of patrol supervisor Jim Newcomb to second in command as captain despite objections from the police union over his controversial past, which includes the wrongful firing of a lesbian officer and the year-long harassment of another female officer.

The story garnered Headline Surfer two awards in the Florida Press Club journalism competition under the categories of "general news writing" and "public safety reporting" in October, after which Chitwood had the 2/7 internet newspaper removed from his departments email media distribution list for press releases and reports.

Headline Surfer subsequently complained to the City Commission under public participation and was informed the website's email listing was restored that night. However, a week later, Chitwood's assigned public information officer, Jimmy Flynt, announced in an email that the media listing was being discontinued and that media outlets could monitor the police department's website for the latest press releases.

No press releases or reports were filed under the police department's website related to the resignation of Penny Dane. The media relied exclusively on what was provided directly by Chitwood, first to WFTV TV Channel 9's Blaine Tollison on Thursday and subsequently later Thursday and Friday to fellow Orlando TV stations WESH ch. 2, WKMG Local 6, Central Florida News 13, FOX 35 and the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Essentially, this is what was relayed to the other media outlets as best Headline Surfer can determine based on their reports: Dane was forced out after an internal affairs investigation determined she uploaded 274 pornographic images on two of her work computers, as well as her frequently going to a virtual sex website.

The 17-year police veteran and married mother of two is seen posing in uniform in several graphic photos she admitted were sent to an online lover she met several months ago, according to an internal affairs report filed June 6. Though the media outlets were told by Chitwood that Dane resigned a week ago, she actually signed a contract in June to retire, Walker said.

Daytona Police Sgt Penny Dane caught up in sex scandal / Headline SurferCourtesy photo exclusively for publication in Headline Surfer / all rights reserved /
Sgt. Penny Dill leaves the Daytona Beach Police Department in May after she's ordered out of the building by Chief Michael Chitwood, minus her gun, badge and uniform.
 

But here's what the Teamster's union is asserting on Dane's behalf:

ALLEGATION: For the past year, Sgt. Dane had been receiving hundreds of text messages from her supervisor, Lt. Tommy Pera, who had been trying to rekindle a past amorous association.

"When she rebuffed the supervisor's attempts at a clandestine relationship (both were married at the time), the supervisor turned on her and began to harass her about her appearance and not wearing a bullet proof vest," Walker said. "He then had her investigated for untruthfulness."

ALLEGATION: At the Internal Affairs Investigation interview, Sgt. Dane produced her phone records showing the investigators that her supervisor had been texting her and harassing her at her home and at all hours.

"The records showed that the supervisor texted her off duty in excess of 500 times (Dane's estimate)," Walker said. "The investigators broke off the meeting so that they could confer with Chief Chitwood," Walker said.

ALLEGATION: Within the hour Sgt. Penny Dane had her gun, badge and ID card taken from her.

"Then they had her strip off her uniform shirt, and made her walk through the lobby in full view of civilians in her white tee shirt while she burst into tears," Walker said.

ALLEGATION: Sgt. Dane's supervisor was investigated, but it wasn't legitimate.

"It was a sham investigation," Walker said, "a half (expletive) investigation with a targeted outcome. The administration likes  Lt. Tom Pera and there was no way they were going to fully investigate him for sexual harassment. They claimed that because Dane didn't save the contents of the text messages that it was her word against his."

Walker continued, "I asked them why a supervisor would text a subordinate off duty more than 500 times. They ignored the comment. They knew that Dane and the supervisor were former lovers and that she never should've been placed under his watch! They are just covering their mistakes."

ALLEGATION: Years ago, Penny Dane was savagely attacked by a "meth head."

"The man approached her in a parking lot and pulled her through an open patrol car window," Walker said. "The maniac bit holes in the top of her head. Since then, we have watched her behavior go steadily downhill. Many officers believe she was suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. I agree."

Walker continued, "She has consistently asked for psychological counseling, which the department has denied on multiple occasions. The PD administration wanted her gone! They knew she was coming apart at the seams and wanted her out of there. Rather than getting her treatment, they started looking for reasons to fire her. Unfortunately, they found one."

ALLEGATION: No matter what she did on her computer, the top brass of the police department abused its authority.

"They were evil in their treatment of her," Walker insisted, "and those (expletives) know it! Penny Dane should've been medically retired years ago. Watching the way they treat women at the Daytona PD is like getting in a time machine and going back to the 1920s. It's pathetic."

Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.