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Surfside mayor defends saying he ‘had a crush’ on female cop

‘She’s the best-looking police officer we have ever had,’ Charles Burkett says in video from Sunday

“I had a crush on you. She’s the best-looking police officer we have ever had,” Mayor Charles Burkett said in bodyworn camera video from Sunday.

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said he didn’t do anything inappropriate when he mentioned he had “a crush” on a police officer and praised her looks in a video from Sunday.

Burkett was speaking to Officer Marianne Howard on the beach after calling in a noise complaint.

“I had a crush on you. She’s the best-looking police officer we have ever had,” Burkett was heard saying in bodyworn camera video.

Local 10 News spoke with the mayor on Wednesday, asking him his response to people in the community saying his comments were inappropriate for a city leader.

“I say you have to keep this in context,” Burkett said. “We live in a gotcha world. If I had done something inappropriate or wrong, I’d be happy to own up to it.”

“You feel this is much ado about nothing?” Local 10 News asked.

“Oh, I know it is,” Burkett responded.

It all began when Burkett called the cops because of loud music on the beach. He told them he wasn’t “thrilled with the response time.”

“I’m dead already, the knife is in my neck,” he said in the bodycam video.

“I was joking with them,” Burkett explained Wednesday. “When you call the police, you really need them to come as quick as possible.”

Town Commissioner Eliana Salzhauer, a vocal critic of Burkett’s, weighed in on Wednesday.

“The only thing he should be saying is, ‘I’m so sorry. I need some training. I clearly don’t understand that the world has evolved past when I was in a fraternity,’” Salzhauer said.

Burkett said he has known Officer Howard for years.

“Marianne was an activist when I was first running,” he said. “We worked together. I knew her.

“I did have, at a point in my life — many, many years ago — a crush on her,” he continued. “Because she was so nice and wonderful. Just a beautiful person.”

Salzhauer said the comments put the police officer in an unfair position.

“There is not a balance of power there,” she said. “You don’t take advantage of that. What is she supposed to do, smack him?”

Said Burkett: “Everybody wants to get a gotcha. And I think it’s a swing and miss for most of them.”

About the Author:

Reporter Rosh Lowe has been covering news for nearly two decades in South Florida. He joined Local 10 in 2021.