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Posted on: January 4, 2022

Police Station Named in Honor of Longest-Serving Employee

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In an easy and unanimous decision Tuesday, the Key West City Commission named the Key West Police Station in honor of recently retired Mary Canalejo.

“I’ve worked with Mary the longest,” said City Manager Patti McLauchlin. “She holds the record for working for the City the longest: 53 years, and I’ve worked with her for 43 of those years.”

McLauchlin noted that Canalejo was one of the first people she met when she started working for the City in dispatch.

“She was the backbone of the police department,” she continued. “Thank you for your commitment to the City.”

“When Mary Canalejo retired,” said Chief Sean Brandenburg, “she had very specific rules of what could and could not be done in commemoration of her retirement. I followed those rules completely. However, she never said anything about not naming the building after her, so here we are tonight.”

Canalejo started her career with the City at the Key West Fire Department as the secretary for Fire Chief Joseph A. Farto in 1968. The following year she was transferred to the Public Service Department, where she worked until 1971, when she transferred to the Key West Police Department as secretary to Chief Eugene Hernandez.

“Mary worked for 11 chiefs and seven captains,” said Chief Brandenburg. “I’m proud to say that I was one of the captains and one of the chiefs. During her tenure, Mary was the civilian employee of the quarter, the half, and the year many, many times over.”

The Commission Chambers were filled with family, friends, and colleagues who gave Canalejo a long, hearty standing ovation.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of my employment,” she said. “That’s why the time went by so fast. I appreciate this honor, especially for my children and grandchildren, who will have this honor also, and the recognition of their mother and grandmother. I can’t thank you enough. It’s quite an honor.”

Chief Brandenburg said he would be working with Art in Public Places Liz Young and Canalejo to design the appropriate plaque for the building.

Mary Canalejo With Commission

This photo from L to R: Commissioners Gregory Davila, Mary Lou Hoover, and Jimmy Weekley, Mayor Teri Johnston, City Manager Patti McLauchlin, Mary Canalejo, Chief Sean Brandenburg, Vice Mayor Sam Kaufman, and Commissioners Clayton Lopez and Billy Wardlow.

Mary Canalejo with PoliceIn this photo from L to R: Chief Sean Brandenburg, Lt. Jason Castillo, Capt. Randy Smith, Lt. Joe Tripp, Sheriff’s Detective Donnie Barrios (formerly a Sgt. With the KWPD), retired Officer Gary Armstrong, Mary Canalejo, retired Sgt. Robert Allen, Sgt. Joe Stockton, Lt. Bradley Lariz, and Detective Darnell Sealey

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