Longboat Key Police Chief Al Hogle hired last month a police captain with more than 20 years with the Bradenton Police Department, whose service includes two suspensions and a demotion for improper conduct while on the job.
Bill Tokajer retired from the Bradenton Police Department in early March as the department’s deputy chief after more than 20 years of service with the department. On March 14, Hogle hired him as a police patrol captain, with a salary of $73,185.84.
In November 1990, Tokajer didn’t report an argument he witnessed between a detective and the detective’s wife that allegedly involved a gun being pointed at her. Tokajer was suspended for two days and demoted after an investigation was performed regarding the incident.
In August 1996, Tokajer witnessed a patrolman strike a Bradenton citizen with a metal flashlight. Tokajer, who denied participating in a cover-up and falsifying a police report regarding the incident, failed a polygraph test during an investigation about the incident. Tokajer received a two-week suspension and a six-month probation period for that incident.
Hogle served as Bradenton’s police chief for a year-and-a-half starting in 2002; at that time Tokajer was a major.
“Frankly, I don’t think the incidents deserve press,” Hogle said. “Bill Tokajer is a good guy, a supervisor who’s been shot in the line of duty, and I strongly defend him.”
Hogle noted the last incident occurred 15 years ago and that Tokajer’s record since then has been exemplary.
Tokajer has served as a patrol officer, detective, patrol sergeant, lieutenant, captain, major, accreditation manager and a deputy chief with the Bradenton Police Department. Hogle also notes that Tokajer received both a Medal of Valor (for disarming a suspect and saving other officers’ lives) and a Purple Heart after being shot in the chest during a search warrant for a narcotics investigation.
“He’s done everything he’s been asked to do through three different Bradenton police chiefs and worked his way up the ladder there to deputy chief,” Hogle said. “He retired in extreme positive standing.”
Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski confirmed Hogle’s assessment of Tokajer.
“In my nine years as chief here, Bill Tokajer has been an outstanding officer, supervisor and manager,” Radzilowski said. “I wasn’t here when he made his mistakes, but he obviously learned from them. We were very sorry to lose him.”
Hogle called the hire “a no-brainer” and told the Longboat Observer that he has access to internal affairs files that were reviewed closely before Tokajer was hired.
Longboat Key Human Resources Manager Lisa Silvertooth said the town’s police and fire rescue departments perform their own background checks.
Silvertooth only has access to police officer files for pre-employment physicals and drug tests.
Hogle said Tokajer passed both psychological testing and a polygraph examination “with flying colors.”
In October 2009, Hogle fired Longboat police officer Jessica Anderson 48 days after she was placed on unpaid leave while the department investigated an arrest that did not meet professional standards.
Hogle’s announcement came six days after his termination of former police officer Patti Beardsley, who waved her department-issued handgun at a motorist in front of her Sarasota home Sept. 16, 2009.
Hogle said those two firings were appropriate and that Tokajer’s past incidents were not fireable offenses.
“Those incidents (concerning Tokajer) were dealt with at the time and resolved appropriately,” Hogle said. “Capt. Tokajer is another valuable addition to the department.”
Tokajer was hired as a junior captain, to replace the opening left by retired Deputy Chief Martin Sharkey, and will supervise one of the police department’s shifts.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]