Daytona's top cop goes on 'The Marc Bernier Show' and calls ex-sergeant with nude photos a 'piece of work'

Daytona PD's Internal Affairs / Headline Surfer

Michael Chitwood then catches himself in 'Freudian slip'

Former Daytoina Sgt. Penny Dane / Headline SurferDBPD Chief Michael Chitwood / Headline Surfer

Headline Surfer video / The video contains a recording of Daytona Beach Police Chief, accompanied by City Manager, appearing on 'The Marc Bernier Show' on WNDB AM radio on Friday, during which the police chief continues piling on former Sgt. Penny Dane about nude photos of her that led to her forced resignation. Even in trying to show compassion for Dane,  a mother of two children now unemployed, the police chief can't help himself in denigrating her even further.

DAYTONA BEACH -- Not content with using the Central Florida media outlets to humiliate a 17-year Daytona Beach cop who left the police force after nude photos of her surfaced, Police Chief Michael Chitwood went on WNDB's "The Marc Bernier Show" and added more insult to injury, describing former Sgt. Penny Dane as "a piece of work."

He then caught himself, adding in mid-sentence, that she was "a work in progress as a sergeant, that was a freudian slip -- probably."

Chitwood took to the popular mid-afternoon radio show hoping for damage control, knowing all too well Headline Surfer has an exclusive interview with Dane after several Orlando TV stations and the Daytona Beach News-Journal all took the acerbic police chief at his word without any independent reporting of their own.

Chitwood, after the Freudian slip, told Bernier, "The sad thing is she has two young kids, she's not an evil person."

That was far from the tenor Chitwood had when he was holding court with TV camera crews -- one after another for two straight days, claiming Dane had uploaded hundreds of nude photos, including some with her posing semi-nude while playing an online adult game on city computers while she was on duty at her assigned office desk and in her patrol car.

Dane's departure was first reported July 25 by WFTV channel 9 reporter Blaine Tollison. But with each media interview, Chitwood's story changed. First, he told reporters Dane not only sent emails of herself nude, but also semi-nude photos of herself in Daytona Beach PD attire.

None of the reports called into question Chitwood's assertion that the nude photos were discovered after an unfounded complaint that a supervisor was harassing her. As it turns out, that supervisor was her former fiancé, Lt. Tom Pera, who, according to Dane, texted her 500 times and dozens of other times called her and her mother during off-work hours while drunk. And the nearly 300 photos of Dane that Chitrwood said she uploaded of herself ended up being a mere half dozen. The others were stock photos from porn websites she had in her e-mail.

Pera, who is married to a female Daytona cop, but going through a divorce, has not returned calls for comment.

In the second day of Chitwood feeding the TV cameras cameras, he Chitwood changed his story to say photos later appeared of her semi-nude and in uniform after her departure from the police force in June.

The Marc Bernier Show / Headline SurferBernier, who has a regular monthly segment with Chitewood called "Ask the Chief," had no comment when contacted by Headline Surfer this morning on Chitwood's apperance Friday, where he was accompanied by City Manager Jim Chisholm who did most of the talking during the on-air segment.

Messages left with Chitwood and Chisholm this morning went unanswered. 

Editor's Note: The extent of nude photos and other claims of impropriety are addressed in Headline Surfer's main profile story and exclusive interview with Dane, which will be published later today.

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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 since 2008. 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 close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.