FORT PIERCE – The City Commission honored Deputy Police Chief Frank Amandro Jan. 22 for 25 years of public service with the Fort Pierce Police Department.
City Clerk Linda Cox read through a proclamation highlighting a career that spanned two and a half decades beginning on Jan. 10, 1994. In less than three years, Mr. Amandro was promoted to the rank of sergeant, rising to the rank of lieutenant in just two more years and making captain in the spring of 2006. The Department promoted him to Deputy Chief of Police in the fall of 2012. He even served a stint as interim chief of police from Oct. 14, 2014 to May 31 of the following year. Throughout the years, the long-term police officer earned one accolade after another.
“Deputy Chief Amandro, throughout his career, received numerous awards and commendation letters for the professional manner in which he has handled his assignments,” Ms. Cox read from the proclamation. “During his term of service, Deputy Chief Amandro received several prestigious awards, including the Community Service Award in 1995; the Service Award in 1998; Manager of the Quarter in 2000; Manager of the Year in 2001; Exceptional Duty in 2002, 2004 and 2006; the Certificate of Athletic Excellence in 2004; Manager of the Quarter in 2006; and the Community Service Award in 2014.”
Both Mayor Linda Hudson and Police Chief Diane Hobley-Burney gave the career officer hugs as he came up to speak at the podium. He immediately brought levity to the moment when he threw a zinger at City Manager Nick Mimms, obviously one of his verbal sparring partners over the years.
“Wow, 25 years Mr. Mimms -- 25 years of you just ridiculing me in front of the public,” he said as laughter broke out in the Chambers. “Now I have the microphone, and I told you I would get even with you.”
Mr. Amandro, who officially retired on Jan. 10 at age 51, then took on a more serious tone, saying there were “two people in particular” that he needed to give thanks to, choking up when he mentioned the second one who was in the audience.
“The first being our good Lord -- He has truly blessed me with this opportunity to serve the citizens of Fort Pierce,” he emphasized. “He has always watched over me, and I would not have made it 25 years without Him on my shoulder every step of the way. And the second person is my mother. She worried from the day that I entered the policy academy until the day that I retired. Without her, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
The now-retired deputy chief also acknowledged “a plethora of people… that I can’t possibly get through them all,” beginning with former Chief Eugene Savage, whom he credited with launching him down his law-enforcement career path.
“Sean Baldwin as well, [these were] two people that were instrumental in my life,” he explained. “But there’s so many other people, from Bob Hood to Mr. Mimms, Commissioner [Rufus] Alexander, Mike Reals, Sherrita Johnson and [Finance Director] Johnna [Morris]. I know that we’ve battled over the numbers over the years, but in the end, we were always professional and we could always have a couple laughs in the process.”
Commissioner Reginald Sessions then lauded the outgoing officer for his service, particularly emphasizing the brief period he served as interim chief.
“I will say this much in terms of his professionalism and his temperament while being in that position as chief of police, he was very outstanding in how he handled the Department,” he said. “The citizens, I’m sure -- at least from my perspective -- were grateful for your services and what you’ve done.”
Commissioner Alexander echoed those sentiments.
“I have to say no matter what time of day or night that I called Frank, he would return a call immediately,” he said. “I really appreciated that, and it carried over until today. No matter where I see him in the streets or the restaurants or wherever, I’m going to still tell him thank you because he did a job for the citizens, and not for me individually, but for the citizens of Fort Pierce.”
Mr. Amandro insisted the biggest reward from his lengthy career with the Fort Pierce Police Department were the people he met along the way and the relationships he formed as a result.
“It is easy to overlook people at times, but you are reminded of the importance of relationships when you have a natural emergency like a hurricane or school shooting, as it takes everyone working together to help us prepare, respond, and recover from these incidents,” he said. “The people of St. Lucie County have always come together and overcame these challenges to become an even stronger community. So, again it’s the people I have met, worked with and shed tears and laughs with.”
When asked about the changes he’d seen in the Department over the last 25 years, the beloved former deputy chief emphasized technology, which he admits has been a two-edged sword. Mr. Amandro watched as the Fort Pierce Police Department’s paper trail gradually disappeared into a digital cyberspace world.
“This has allowed us to become more efficient and effective in the services we provide and our crime-fighting strategies,” he said. “For a while, our community relationship were strained because of technology, as we forgot to connect with our citizens. But we have made some significant strides in building and maintaining relationships within our community, with community leaders and stakeholders and our criminal justice partners. We have also made significant strides in acquiring the necessary equipment and advanced training to make our staff more efficient, safer, and more effective.”
His retirement from the Police Department won’t see any grass growing under his feet, however. Four days after he clocked out of the Department for the last time, he clocked in as the new assistant director of the St. Lucie County Public Safety Department, where he’ll oversee the 9-1-1 Communications Center, Emergency Management, Radiological, Animal Safety and Marine Safety departments. Having served as the emergency manager for the City of Fort Pierce and the Fort Pierce Police Department since 2006, he called the lateral move “a natural transition.”
“During my time with the police department, I had been in a command level / leadership role for the better part of 18 years, so I hope to bring these qualities and experience with me to assist Director Ron Parrish in his duties and responsibilities. The Public Safety Department already has an excellent team of professionals, so I hope to become another valuable member of their team that ensures the safety and well-being of our citizens.”
Mr. Amandro said his best moments as a Fort Pierce Police Officer resulted from the times he was able to make a difference in someone’s life, whether it was helping someone across the street, changing a flat tire for a stranded motorist or helping find a lost child or a stolen bicycle.
“The ‘thank-yous’, the hugs and the smiles that you receive are my fondest memories,” he exclaimed. “It’s what makes the long days away from my family and children all worth it. It was truly an honor and privilege to serve of the citizens of Fort Pierce, and I was truly blessed.”