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When your neighbor is a hostile ex-cop, don’t count on your city for help

hollywood police
hollywood police

By Francisco Alvarado, FloridaBulldog.org

Over the past 18 months, Thais Alvarez’s next-door neighbor hasn’t been so neighborly, she says. Lyle Bien blew leaves on her property, blasted bass heavy music for hours, called her a “fucking bitch” in front of a cop and, since moving out of the neighborhood in February, blocked her driveway on two occasions.

Yet, whenever she called the Hollywood Police Department for help, officers were often reluctant to tell her neighbor to knock it off, wrote police reports that omitted facts about Bien’s aggressions and refused to investigate her allegations of harassment against him, Alvarez told Florida Bulldog. They wanted to protect one of their own, she said. Bien retired as Hollywood police sergeant on July 31, 2020 after 30 years on the force, including as a homicide unit supervisor during his last 16 years.

Lyle Bien Photo: Thais Alvarez

Alvarez, a teacher and licensed attorney, said she also hit dead-ends with Hollywood elected officials and administrators and the Broward Inspector General when she sought independent investigations into her claims that the police department was giving Bien a pass.

“No matter how many governmental agencies I called, the public employees and elected officials charged with providing taxpayers, like me, with relief from people like Lyle Bien, all dismissed my pleas for assistance,” Alvarez said. “I feel I have been dismissed over-and-over again, and essentially, gagged, disenfranchised and marginalized.”

Bien declined comment to Florida Bulldog. Last November, he filed a Florida Bar complaint against Alvarez that alleged she “has demonstrated unethical and inappropriate behavior” by posting videos of his house on social media and that she broke Florida law shielding the addresses of law-enforcement officials from the public.

In his complaint, Bien said there have been drive-by threats directed at his family members and that they were forced to implement various safety measures, including moving out of Hollywood city limits. “Recently retired, I now find myself and my family members in a position of vulnerability, especially with the current climate regarding the stance on law enforcement,” Bien wrote. “The actions of Ms. Alvarez has caused me to seek residence elsewhere after 24 years here.”

BAR CLOSES COMPLAINT

The Florida Bar closed Bien’s complaint on Feb. 25, citing insufficient evidence that Alvarez had violated any bar rules and laws. Bar counsel Annemarie Craft determined that “continued disciplinary proceedings in this matter would be inappropriate.”

Thais Alvarez

Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy and City Commissioner Traci Callari, two elected officials Alvarez sought assistance from, did not respond to Florida Bulldog requests for comment. Alvarez said she also attempted to set up meetings with Assistant Police Chief Jeffrey Devlin after he offered to help following a City Commission public hearing last year. Devlin and Police Major  Norris Redding, whom Alvarez also communicated with about her problems with Hollywood police, did not respond to requests for comment.

Broward Inspector General John Scott declined comment with Florida Bulldog.

On July 3, 2020, Alvarez called Hollywood police when she got into a dispute with Bien about his landscaper blowing leaves, dirt and debris on her property. An initial incident report by Police Officer Brandon Mitchell simply states, “Caller advised landscaper and neighbor who is a police officer is threatening her.”

A month later, after receiving a copy of the report, Alvarez emailed Mitchell and another officer who was on the scene to complain the document was missing a key fact they had witnessed. On Aug. 5, 2020, Mitchell wrote an amended report that included an additional line that states, “While on the scene neighbor Bien yelled, ‘that fucking bitch is crazy’ from his yard, then walked inside his house.”

STRANGE HOLLYWOOD POLICE REPORTS

Another incident report written on July 25, 2020 by Officer Isaiah Pitts was completely untrue, Alvarez alleged. The report states, “Ongoing issue regarding loud music. No music playing.”  On Aug. 21, 2020, Pitts wrote an amended report that now stated he had watched a video clip Alvarez took from her backyard in which he was able to hear music being played. “The music was plainly audible…I spoke with neighbors and advised them of the complaint to keep the music down.”

A third cop, Officer Carlos Posada, on Aug. 28, 2020 allegedly witnessed Bien call her a “crazy fucking nut” in front of her mother and 4-year-old nephew and threaten to rip out a fence she put up, according to emails and documents Alvarez sent to Posada and his supervisors.

But the initial incident report by Posada makes no mention of Bien saying profanities and issuing a threat. He amended the report to include the following line, “a verbal altercation ensued in which Bien did call Alvarez a ‘fucking nut’ without leaving his property.” Posada also wrote that Bien gave Alvarez three days to remove the fence “before he handles it himself.”

Alvarez sought more corrections to Posada’s amended report, but he and his supervisors ignored her subsequent emails, she said. 

About two weeks later, Alvarez sought a protective order against Bien that accused him of stalking her. Her request for a temporary injunction was denied on Sept. 11, 2020, according to the Broward County Clerk’s online court docket.

Assistant Chief Jeffrey Devlin

During a City Commission hearing on Oct. 14, 2020, Alvarez was relaying her experiences with the Hollywood police during time allotted for citizens to make public comments. But her speech was cut short by City Commissioner Callari, who informed Alvarez the meeting was “not the proper forum” for her to address her issues with the Hollywood Police Department, according to video of the public hearing. Callari told Alvarez she would follow up with her personally afterward.

Assistant Police Chief Devlin also approached her the same evening and offered to meet with her the following week after hearing her concerns, Alvarez said. She said after several attempts to schedule the meeting through Major Redding, it never took place. The assistant chief and Major Redding ignored her emails, Alvarez said.

Her meeting with Callari also never happened after she insisted on being able to record it, Alvarez said. On Nov. 3, 2020, the day she was to meet Callari, she received a hostile email from City Attorney Douglas Gonzalez that the conference had been called off. “You have distorted the facts and seek relief that cannot be provided,” Gonzalez wrote. “As a result, I am asking that you cease any further communication with City staff, and since you have indicated that you have a law degree, you are asked to direct any further communications to me only.”

BROWARD IG DOES ZIP

Last December, Alvarez turned to the Broward Inspector General, requesting an investigation into the Hollywood Police Department’s handling of her incident reports, as well as investigating city officials, including Gonzalez, for attempting to silence her grievances with the police department at a public hearing.

The watchdog agency closed her complaint on April 7 because the matter “would be, is being or has been appropriately addressed by [an]other agency or in [an]other venue/litigation,” according to an email Alvarez received from the Inspector General’s Counsel Carol “Jodie” Breece. In a subsequent email the same day, Breece informed Alvarez that her file did not contain any reports other than an investigative memorandum that outlined her allegations.

Alvarez then sent a 21-page memo to Inspector General Scott on June 25 outlining her disappointment that his investigators did not even conduct a single interview with a Hollywood city official and or even give a cursory inquiry into her allegations. Alvarez said Scott never replied.

“Unfortunately, the Broward Inspector General made a mockery of my complaint,” Alvarez said in an interview. “Scott did not even have the courtesy of writing to me to indicate that he had received the letter. At this point, I presume he will not get back to me.”

When Bien and his wife sold their house eight months ago and moved out, she tried to move on, Alvarez said. But her nemesis kept popping up in the old neighborhood to harass her, she alleged.

On April 1, security cam footage trained on Alvarez’s front yard shows Bien’s black Dodge truck stopping in front of her driveway. Her gray Honda SUV is parked near the front door so she was home. His truck blocks her driveway for about 15 minutes and then he drives off.

 On July 1, Bien showed up again, blocking her driveway for a second time. Alvarez’s camera records him getting out of the truck, grabbing a brown paper bag out of the cab and then walking toward his old house. A couple of minutes later, as he walks back to his truck, Bien looks toward Alvarez’s residence. He gets back out to talk to a landscaper whose truck and trailer is blocking the other side of the street.

On Aug. 18, the camera recorded the same black Dodge truck idling in the street as Alvarez walked out of her house and got into her SUV. The truck backs up slightly then slowly starts to move forward. Alvarez drives a few feet and pulls into another neighbor’s driveway. The Dodge truck drives by.

HOLLYWOOD POLICE: BIEN ‘STRONG-WILLED’

Alvarez also recorded the truck parked on the swale facing the opposite direction when she pulled onto the road again. Convinced Bien was trying to follow her, she reported the three encounters with Hollywood police. She alleged her now ex-neighbor was stalking and harassing her. Officers wrote incident reports that did not accurately portray what she showed them in her videos, Alvarez claimed.

Her requests to have the incident reports corrected were also denied. In an Aug. 27 email to Alvarez, Hollywood Police Lt. Richard Losenbeck relayed that he and other supervisors reviewed her most recent videos, as well as her recorded clips from the leaf-blowing incident last year. Losenbeck explained the footage was insufficient to charge Bien with any of the crimes she accused him of.

“I imagine parking in front of your driveway was intentional and meant to annoy you, but two times in six months does not rise to a criminal act,” Losenbeck wrote. “What you have is one video of him allowing you to back out of your driveway and then continuing behind you. He was already going in that direction, hardly evidence of stalking.”

Losenbeck also informed Alvarez there was no one in the Hollywood Police Department who could tell Bien to leave her alone. “Lyle Bien is a strong-willed man who is not going to be persuaded to do something he doesn’t want to do,” Losenbeck wrote. “And as a private citizen, he is not bound by any Hollywood Police policies regarding his behavior.”

In closing, Losenbeck said the police department was done dealing with any criminal and internal affairs investigations related to her dispute with Bien and any changes to incident reports. Losenbeck did not respond to Florida Bulldog emails requesting comment.

“He does not have a deterrent to keep him from coming back to continue harassing me,” Alvarez said. “I fear I will never be free of Mr. Bien’s random harassment, which is why I am on edge even though he moved away.”

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Latest comments

  • The Hollywood police department is full of 24 year olds that had a C average in high school. What do you expect?

    I have the same problem with them.

  • I Agree With Mchugh to the “ Max “ .

  • She made a mountain out of a molehill. She needs to let little annoyances go or she will end up miserable from picking fights constantly.

  • I am glad that I have nothing to do with either of them. Two people with OCD trying to use the city and the law to force submission. That is a waste of resources that are mostly useless in the first place. The city is a mess. Broward is a mess.

  • Wow she going through all that for what what it going to solve when he is not bothering you he moved out his house and you still bothering him just miserable she need attention that she not getting enough off

  • After reading the story, it is evident one neighbor is trying to Bully one of the City’s former employee. We all need to thank our first responders and appreciate the hard work they do for all of us everyday around the clock. Bullying our fine police department is totally wrong.

  • I had a similar problem long ago in Pembroke Pines. Same deal. Bully neighbor with Cops as his KGB. I ended up moving to a better home in a better neighborhood but remained in PPines

    But high taxes are going to run my extended family to leave this place forever. Overgrown, Overtaxed and under represented.

  • It’s a free country. So it sounds to me since what he is doing doesn’t rise to anything illegal but she is still worried for her “safety”, she has the right to move just like he did. Then he can’t find her.

  • Me Alvarez is trying to stand up against the mafia mentally if the Hollywood Police and city officials. This cop even did similar things to one of his own a female cop on the force. He’s a bully and the city allows this from men. If she was a man he would not have even behave the way he did. Now he’s stalking her. How horrific and horrified she must be!

  • To Veronica: Little annoyance? Guy violates the law, blocks her driveway, threatens to damage her property, disturbs her right to quiet enjoyment of her property, and it’s a little annoyance? Where you from? Certainly not here.

  • To JACK JAFARMADAR: Are you saying that when the Guy breaks violates law, blocks her driveway, threatens to damage her property, disturbs her right to quiet enjoyment of her property that SHE is bullying HIM by trying to enforce her legal rights? Or are you saying that first responders have the right to bully their neighbors by violating the law, blocking their neighbor’s driveway, threatening do damage their neighbor’s property, disturb their neighbor’s right to quiet enjoyment of their property because they are first responders? Either way, you have a lot to learn about civilized society.

  • RS said, “It’s a free country. So it sounds to me since what he is doing doesn’t rise to anything illegal but she is still worried for her “safety”, she has the right to move just like he did. Then he can’t find her.”

    She feels unsafe so she should move? So anytime anyone feels unsafe should just pick up and move and hide? What stupid nonsense!

  • Ms Alvarez is a long time friend who is going through this unfortunate situation with her ex neighbor. Wishing her peace and harmony.

  • So PHIL PILCHEY, it’s improper for her to use the law to force another person to obey the law when that person’s disobeying the law interferes with her legal rights? What kind of logic do you call that? Whose resources are wasted? Do you think she does not have the right to use the law against someone who is violating the law?

  • This is known as stranger on stranger stalking and it is beyond frightening. It is primarily perpetrated by men, against women, and no amount of the word, “No” will put a stop to it. Notice how all of Bien’s enablers are men, and all of the city and county officials who have tried to gaslight Ms. Alvarez are also men. I guarantee that if this was happening to any one of these cops’ wives, mothers or daughters, they’d have hauled the suspect in on stalking charges by now. In most states, criminal stalking does not require any single crime. It is a pattern of annoyances that serve no legitimate purpose. It is meant to bully and terrorize. That effect is magnified ten-fold (at least) when the victim knows the stalker has the help of law enforcement and is, therefore, left truly helpless. These taxpayer-paid cops (who, btw, take a sworn oath to serve) would have to be complete idiots to not recognize stalking when they see it, jack this guy up against a wall, and tell him to knock it off or face charges. But, they take their orders from the top. Ms. Alvarez has done the right thing outing ALL of these assholes to the press, while the (sexist) fact that she has never had an “intimate” relationship with this loser leaves her out of the realm of protections afforded to most
    “domestic violence” victims. (Read: Women stupid enough to be married or have kids with one of these losers). The fact that she has better taste in men than some of the female victim blamers on this comment section works against her in the law. I believe every word she says. She doesn’t sound like she needs my help, but I speak from experience when I say video and audio tape every interaction with police, the stalker, or any other bully enabler with an ounce of power or YOU will be falsely charged. That is their next step because they know their own actions and inaction are illegal. Install a Blackvue in your vehicle in case you are pulled over (everyone should do that), carry mace at all times, and buy a reliable gun for
    your home and learn how to use it. Any grown man who acts this way for an extended period of time, blames the victim for him moving, etc., and whines like a baby is capable of anything. Do not under-estimate him. (Target practice is a great stress reliever, too). Better yet, if at all possible, move and hide, because I guarantee it’s not over. It sounds to me like its at the point where the top cop and city officials should be charged. They know that, and will just dig their heels in further. FYI New Zealand has some of the best anti-stalking laws in the world. The fact that the country is run by a woman has nothing to do with it. The laws were in place before she was. They just have way more respect for women over there. Oh…and one more thing: Take heart in the fact that you are not alone. And, that Mr. Bien is most probably impotent.

  • Commissioner Traci Callari’s husband is a Hollywood Police Department police officer, and therefore, I was not surprised when she did not meet with me, as she said she would.

    City Attorney Douglas Gonzales e-mailed me accusing me of “harassment” and threatened me with “legal redress,” simply because I desperately attempted to seek the assistance of city officials and employees. City Attorney Gonzales e-mailed me, “If you continue with your harassment and incessant communications, I will be forced to seek appropriate legal redress.” My e-mails were not tantamount to “harassment” nor “incessant.” I was within my right to seek the assistance of the government I pay taxes to, and therefore, Attorney Gonzales did not have a valid cause of action against me.

    Hollywood has a “Neighborhood Team Leader Program” where an officer, the NTL, helps neighbors resolve disputes among other duties. After Sergeant Morris suggested that my NTL, Officer Hammaker, meet with me, a mediation was set up. At the 11th hour, however, it was cancelled. I received NO help from the NTL or HPD even though I have e-mails pleading that they help me resolve the situation with my neighbor peacefully.

    Scary is the day you realize that the police is above the law – not because they are, in fact, but because NO agency exists, in my experience, to keep them truly in check.

    Chilling to have to live like this in America.

  • I completely feel your pain. And I am not surprised that any woman who does not defend you has a (dependent) relationship with a man involved. What could have and should have ended with police following the law has escalated to what is known as gang-stalking. It’s psychological terrorism and police know all about it and some are masters at it and encourage it. Those cops take their orders from the top. A very honest cop once told me, “You’re only as corrupt as the person above you”. It is so true. Furthermore, the city attorney or manager is rather disingenuous, to be kind. In trying to silence you, he acts like he invented gaslighting whenvanyone with a brain, and no stakes in the game, can see that all those memos and “documented” “behavior” or whatever code they use only makes them look more corrupt. If they are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem. Smart, successful women are favorite targets for these bullies because of their own psychosocial and other psychiatric issues. Like Diogenes, you need to find someone honest, who is willing to stick their neck out. When I lived in Florida, that was fairly easy to do. Not so much anywhere, any more.

  • And BTW, I guarantee that if you were a man, this would not be happening. Also, the city attorney’s letter and some of the actions and threats by anyone who takes an oath opens them up to federal civil rights crimes. You are allowed to speak, complain or vocalize as loudly and as often as you care to! It is your constitutional right. You are not allowed to threaten, but neither are they. In PA, a police chief was recently charged federally, and forced to resign after threatening a detractor with arrest if he didn’t take down some derogatory statements he made about the chief on his Facebook page. The poster took them down, but then he turned him in. Go get ’em, tiger!

  • As a woman I can sympathize with Ms. Alvarez , even if one is tempted to be neutral or take sides , the cop moved and keeps coming back indicates that he continues being the instigator, he should find more productive ways of spending his time in retirement rather than swinging by his old residential block and harassing this young woman.
    The Hollywood police should really consider higher more counselors and therapist for their law enforcement officers current and x. Providing them with a safe space would be ideal. Also removing the “police” title and calling their personnel “community service support aids “ may reduce their tendency to aggressiveness. Internal affairs should also be reorganized hiring an outside independent agency. Actually internal affairs should be dismantled altogether and the independent agency should investigate police misconduct.

  • It is generally accepted that law enforcement will generally support their own regardless of the matter at hand. I have also observed that in most cases government officials find it much easier not to take action in regards to public complaints, except when pressure by negative publicity. We can only hope that this article in the Bulldog is also picked up by other media, to increase pressure on Hollywood city officials to take another look at this situation. At the very least, Mr. Bien now knows that he should desist from creating any further situations for Ms. Alvarez.

    Most of us would simply shrug our shoulders and move on, understanding that we would have an uphill fight against government indifference. Ms. Alvarez should be commended by the rest of us for going all out to defend her right not to be harassed.

  • This story is as old as history. A civil dispute consulates between two parties and escalates. Ms Alvarez seemed very disturbed by the loud music of a neighbor (something I think many people can relate to ).
    She tried to be respectful and for whatever the reasons the problem didn’t stop. It seemed that it escalated to the point where Mr Bien had to move from his home of 25 years (ostensibly) because of the situation with Ms Alvarez. If that is the truth only Mr Bien knows the truth of the negative effects this has caused him. If he lost his home or went through of a divorce (or something of that magnitude ) from a noise dispute nobody deserves that and Im sure Ms Alvarez would agree as any compassionate human being would be. On the other hand it is pretty evident that when he comes back to his old home it has to do with Ms Alvarez. Im sure Mr Bien has a female relative (mother, sister, wife) and he wouldn’t want them to experience the psychological duress that she is probably experiencing from this. So in the end you have a situation where Mr Bien and Ms Alvarez both suffer loss which is very sad. At this point both of them should move on with their lives. I hope they both try and find some peace in something positive. Just an objective view from a third party like many here.

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