New Port Richey police chief defends cops who made Holocaust joke and prayed with Proud Boys

The chief read off a list of disturbing police incidents, and defended all of them.

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click to enlarge New Port Richey police chief defends cops who made Holocaust joke and prayed with Proud Boys
NPR Police Chief Kim Bogart (right) poses with Elizabeth Dennison, who he defended for posting a picture in front of a confederate flag.
New Port Richey’s police chief was asked to address city council last month after officers were caught praying with a far right extremist group and after another incident involving an officer who made a Holocaust joke in a Jewish woman’s home. But rather than condemn these scandals and others, the chief instead defended his department.

NPRPD Chief Kim Bogart—who appeared before council on Nov. 1 at the request of City Manager Debbie Manns—began by explaining that there’s a lot of pressure on his department, which currently employs 44 full-time officers. The 10-year-chief then responded to a list of incidents his officers were involved in over the past three years and defended each claim.

The list included events where his cops leaked department intel to an armed right wing vigilante, posed in front of a confederate flag, and gave false testimony about the arrest of a Black man.

However, one of the most notable incidents involved a cop making a joke about Anne Frank, who died at the hands of Nazis during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.

Body camera video from August of this year shows officers inspecting the Jewish woman's house for alleged code violations. NPRPD and code enforcement broke in when she wasn't home. Some officers acknowledged a stairway next to what seemed to be an addition to the house.

"It's like Anne Frank," officer Todd Gee whispered, referencing how Frank hid from Nazis in an annex. Corporal Karen Norris laughed and Gee repeated what he said while Norris covered her face laughing.

According to Bogart, the incident was simply a valid reference to Frank and tried to explain why his corporal laughed in response.

"I feel Gee made a historically accurate statement," Bogart told council. "She laughed at his reference, because it happened that we were serving a search warrant on a structure where a false wall was put in place to conceal what was behind it.”

"And anyone that knows the Frank story knows that she was holed up behind a wall and spent a year or two behind it before she finally, I believe she was killed, I don't recall the full story, but, anyway," he said before trailing off and changing the subject.
Bogart said that even though those officers "were not intending to have any anti-semitism related to that incident" the police department counseled them and required that they attend additional cultural sensitivity training.

He also addressed his officers praying with SPLC-designated hate group the Proud Boys in September of 2020, during the height of the Black Lives Matter uprising around the country. Officers had responded to a verbal conflict at Wing House between BLM marchers and Proud Boys who flashed "white power" signs at them. Restaurant management wanted everyone trespassed and called the police.

Bogart told council that when his cops got there, everyone calmed down and no one had to be arrested. It was then that a woman approached officers to pray with them. A video of the prayer was posted on Facebook.

"We didn't even know who the Proud Boys were, Oathkeepers and some of those other groups that have come to the forefront," Bogart said. "They were not in our town enough to where we knew who they were and dealt with them."
He claimed the officers couldn't tell that they were praying with a hate group, even though BLM protesters told the cops about the white power hand signs. Bogart said that when officers are asked to participate in prayer, he expects them to comply, even though he also acknowledged that there may be people of many different faiths in the department and atheists.

"It was innocent," Bogart said. "If I find out that somebody has asked them to show respect while they're going to pray, and my officers don't at least, even if they don't agree, don't at least do something to show respect, I would be very disappointed in them."

But Bogart’s officers also leaked intel about a BLM protest to an armed right-wing vigilante, who was publicly threatening protestors.

In 2020, just a couple weeks before the prayer with Proud Boys, a right winger named Jason Guralny shared a picture of himself on Facebook wearing military gear and multiple pistols. He wrote “So BLM is bringing a bunch of people to downtown NPR tonight??... Hold on, let me get dressed.” The caption included hashtags #backtheblue, #notinourtown and #blackgunsmatter.
But Guralny had the wrong information about when the protest was occurring, so former NPRPD officer Corey Oliver corrected him in the comments. “They canceled for tonight but will be doing silent protest tomorrow per my departments intel,” Oliver wrote.

Bogart downplayed the facts of the incident.

"One of his friends, I believe, wanted to know where the protests was gonna be held, he wanted to go see it," Bogart told council. "He posted that it was not going to occur that night and was going to occur at another location. It was a true mistake on his part. Nonetheless, given the temperament at the time of certain individuals, and everything else, I felt terrible when I fired him over that."

The chief also defended former officer Elizabeth Dennison, who posted a Facebook picture of her smiling in front of a confederate flag.

"She was on a friend's boat, they had a confederate flag in the background and a picture was taken," Bogart said. "It was posted on social media, but neither the boat nor the flag belonged to her. She didn't intend to be sending any kind of a message, and that flag means different things to different people."

Bogart added that confederate flags are "disappearing" and that it might be for good reasons. He said that Dennison resigned afterwards, and claimed that it was not because of the incident but to pursue a career in nursing.
He also referenced officer Michael Toldo, an active NPRPD officer who made posts that were sympathetic to Kyle Rittenhouse, who in 2020 shot and killed a BLM protestor in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

"He posted two news articles on Facebook during the trial and when you look at those you're gonna say, he didn't make any comments, he didn't say I'm for this guy or against this guy," Bogart said. "Oh and by the way, Kyle was found not guilty at trial."

Two weeks later at a Nov. 15 city council meeting, Marlowe Jones—a BLM leader who was found not guilty after being falsely accused of battery on former NPRPD officer Nicholas Rickus—responded to Bogart’s claims.

Speaking to council and Manns—who texted that she was "not happy" after Jones' not guilty verdict—Jones called Bogart a liar, and offered documents as proof.

Jones submitted documents to council which showed that Oliver had actually leaked department intel to an armed vigilante, and countered Bogarts claims that he was just talking with a friend.

"Your chief of police got on this dais and told you all a bunch of hogwash," Jones said

About The Author

Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia has written for The Nation, Investigative Reporters & Editors Journal, the USA Today Network and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 

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