Hollywood police chief: Don't believe that billboard saying city isn't safe

Hollywood's police chief, the target of recent police union attacks via banner and billboard, had his own message for the public on Wednesday: The streets of Hollywood are safe.

"I don't fly planes with banners on them," said Chief Frank Fernandez, referring to a banner flown over Hollywood's beach and downtown in March calling Hollywood a high crime area and putting the blame on the chief.

Union leaders put up a billboard on Pembroke Road on Monday claiming Hollywood was No. 1 in Broward homicides in 2013.

"To put up that billboard is disgraceful," Fernandez told commissioners. "It degrades every single officer in the Hollywood Police Department and the hard work they do. This city is safe, not because of me, but because of them."


Photos: Not at Comic-Con at TATE'S Comics

Fernandez, who became chief in mid-August, has vowed to turn around the troubled department.

He turned to outside consultants to review the agency. Their audit has turned up problems with the department's use-of-force policy, missing Internal Affairs files and forgotten rape kits.

Fernandez said he stands behind his troops — and many of them back him as well.

"I've been approached by many of them who have told me, 'Keep doing what you're doing.'"

sbryan@tribune.com or 954-356-4554