Assistant Chief Gary Blocker will serve as Wilton Manors’ new police chief following Police Chief Paul O’Connell’s retirement.
At the February 23, 2021 Wilton Manors City Commission Meeting, the City Commission unanimously confirmed the appointment of Assistant Chief Gary Blocker to serve as the city’s next police chief. The appointment comes following the retirement announcement by Chief Paul O’Connell.
“I am grateful for the trust placed in me by city leadership to lead the Department,” said Assistant Chief Blocker. “We have an honorable group of professional law enforcement staff who genuinely enjoy serving our community, and we have a great community that is truly committed to making Wilton Manors a better place for all each and every day.”
Assistant Chief Blocker joined the Wilton Manors Police Department (WMPD) in October 1996 as a civilian employee where he worked as a desk officer and police service aide. In September 1998, he attended the 190th session of the Broward College Institute of Public Safety Police Academy and then went on to serve in various positions within the WMPD including road patrol and field training, narcotics detective, multiple agency gang task force, drug detection canine handler, detective bureau, marine patrol, patrol sergeant, code compliance supervisor, detective sergeant, and operations commander. He has supervised the Operations Division since April 2013 and he considers this division his true passion as operations is often the backbone of law enforcement agencies.
Selected as the Agency’s Officer of the Quarter four times, Assistant Chief Blocker has been the recipient of the Meritorious Service Award twice and he was selected as the Department’s Officer of the Year in 2012. Assistant Chief Blocker holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Florida Atlantic University and is a graduate of the 263rd Session of the FBI National Academy. He is a member of the FBI National Academy Associates, and an associate member of the Broward County Chiefs of Police Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association.
Assistant Chief Blocker will assume his new role as police chief on April 3, 2021 following Chief O’Connell’s retirement on April 2, 2021. After 40 years of service, 10 of which have been with the WMPD, Chief O’Connell is credited with establishing a transparent, open-door approach with residents, business owners, and his co-workers. From launching his successful “Coffee with the Chief” program to implementing several initiatives to boost morale within the Department, and his ongoing work with the Urban League of Broward County to fight for racial justice, Chief O’Connell has had many accomplishments during his tenure with the WMPD.
“We are so grateful for all Chief O’Connell has done to support and protect our residents and visitors here in the Island City and we will miss him,” said Leigh Ann Henderson, City Manager. “He has always sought out equality and fairness across the board and showed great empathy for front line officers, especially this past year during the pandemic.”
Chief O’Connell has received several accolades and awards for boosting department morale, his work on the racial justice front, and his transparent and engaging approach with the community. His most recent awards include the 2020 Broward Urban League Champion of the Community Award and the 2019 Broward Urban League Making a Difference Award. He also received the Anti-Defamation League’s Excellence in Law Enforcement Award for the State of Florida in 2014.
About the City of Wilton Manors
Wilton Manors was laid out in 1925 by Edward John “Ned” Willingham, a land developer from Georgia, as an upscale residential community. It was recognized as a Village in 1947 and incorporated as a City in 1953. Today, the City of Wilton Manors offers all the benefits of a big city from shopping, to hip restaurants and bars, a burgeoning arts community, and tons of community events, yet still maintains a cozy, community-feeling offering miles of natural waterways perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding, and other outdoor activities. In 2018, Wilton Manors was named the “Second Gayest City” in the United States, celebrating a diverse population of approximately 12,000 residents. To learn more about the live, work, and play opportunities in Wilton Manors call (954) 390-2100 or visit WiltonManors.com. Content and images courtesy of the City of Wilton Manors.