Let us pause to note the recent passing of two gentlemen who made a positive difference in our community.
When I returned from military service in Vietnam, I was fortunate to work with Bob Dempsey at the then Metro-Dade Public Safety Department. We were hired during the summer of 1972, and in due course created a professional partnership that benefited South Florida’s law enforcement.
We collaborated on creating the first police department in the United States to “validate” its hiring and promotion criteria, which eventually lead to the introduction of more women and minorities in the workforce. We implemented affirmative action programs, and negotiated early versions of collective bargaining agreements under the newly enacted Florida public sector law. Bob was a fearless partner in setting a new course for police personnel administration.
John Pennekamp was a West Point graduate and an Air Force veteran. He was well-recognized for his unquestioned ethical character, respected for his role in the banking industry, and a leader in many civic groups.
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My long-time partnership with John began with the creation of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee, which lead to the commissioning of the USS Miami nuclear submarine and the Coast Guard Cutter Key Biscayne; the creation of a Visiting Ship program, which attracted numerous military vessels; the formation of a task force to save Homestead Air Force Base after Hurricane Andrew; and the creation of “Team Miami,” to convince the Department of Defense to relocate SouthCom to Dade County. While there were many people involved in each of these projects, John was always there — front and center.
Both these men have left great legacies. We could use more Bobs and Johns in this community.
Don Slesnick, Coral Gables