SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - A Surfside Police officer is speaking out after she received uncomfortable comments from the former mayor and is accusing her boss of bullying.

The officer said once she brought up her concerns, she was taken off the force. Now, she wants her job back.

“For me, it was a dream come true to work in Surfside and serve as an officer there,” said Officer Marianne Howard.

Howard has lived in Surfside most of her life. Her family has lived there since the ’50s.

“It was something I always wanted to do,” said Howard. 

She has been an officer in Surfside for six years.

“Well, I had a crush on you,” said former Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett.

Then, she started dealing with episodes.

“She’s the best looking police officer we ever had,” said Burkett.

Burkett greeted Howard in 2021, when she responded to a noise complaint he made on the beach.

“It became a culture in the department,” said Howard.  

She called Burkett’s encounter “harassment,” but it’s far from her only uncomfortable dealing with a superior.

She said Surfside Police Capt. Antonio Marciante, her direct boss, has been sexually harassing her since 2019. It’s why she said she never went public about Burkett on the beach.

“That’s the reason why I did not come forward then,” said Howard. 

She was worried about retaliation at work, where Howard alleges she has been “objectified, violated, humiliated.”

With her attorney Ignacio Alvarez, at the Police Benevolent Association of South Florida, she told 7News about a night in 2019 during a meeting with Marciante.

“He gave me a hug and lingered. Then his head moved down to my neck, and that’s when he kissed me on the neck a couple of times,” said Howard. “I pulled away and went straight to my car and left.”

7News asked Howard how that incident made her feel. 

“Very uncomfortable, violated,” responded Howard.  

As he built mailboxes at the police station in 2021…

“Having things stuffed down my shirt, it was just inappropriate,” said Howard. “There is still a level of respect that you expect from a superior.”

In 2022, she said she took her concerns to the town’s new chief. Weeks ago, she was relieved of duty, saying they…

“Would be taking my gun and my badge,” said Howard.

“Departmental Policy Violations,” which have not been made clear, were the reasons why she was told she was suspended.

“She wants to be back in uniform, back on the road, back working for the community that she loves,” said Alvarez.

They’re awaiting the town’s response to a pre-lawsuit demand letter, or they’re taking Surfside to court.

“There’s a culture we’re trying to change over there in Surfside. It’s got to change,” said Steadman Stahl, president of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association. “It’s time to put her back to work. Let’s get some sensitivity training over there and fix the problem.”

Howard told 7News that when all this first started, she actually did confront that police captain. She said her complaints got her nowhere.

7News reached out to the town of Surfside and the police department Tuesday evening. They said they’re not commenting.

Copyright 2024 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox