Miami officials have decided to fire the city’s new police chief six months into his turbulent tenure, after he was chastised by city commissioners who he accused of interfering in police department and internal affairs investigations.
In a statement issued Monday, Miami City Manager Art Noriega stated that he had suspended Chief Art Acevedo with the intent to terminate his employment.
“The Chief’s relationship with the organization had become untenable and needed to be resolved immediately,” Noriega said. “Chief Acevedo is not the right fit for this organization,” says the president.
Art Acevedo was hired by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who praised him earlier this year as “America’s best chief.”
He was regarded as a progressive law enforcer who led the Houston police department, and as a Havana-born refugee, he shares ancestry with hundreds of thousands of Cubans in Miami.
But, almost immediately after being sworn in in April, Acevedo began making waves by taking over internal affairs and making significant changes to his command staff.
He demoted four majors and fired two high-ranking police officers — a married couple — for lying about a crash involving a city-issued SUV.
Commissioners attacked Acevedo and his leadership in two raucous meetings over the last month, appointing themselves to an investigative committee with subpoena power to investigate his appointment.
During one of those meetings, videos were shown of Acevedo impersonating Elvis Presley dancing “Jailhouse Rock” in the iconic white jumpsuit and entering a fundraiser dance floor, slapping a woman’s rear with a piece of paper.
At another point, city commissioner Joe Carollo requested that Acevedo be arrested if he had evidence that he and other politicians were interfering with internal affairs investigations.
Miami City Commissioner Manolo Reyes told WSVN-TV that “the only thing we asked for was for him to be the chief.” It is not my intention to be a politician. To not criticize any elected official, judges, or state attorney. Just to carry out his duties as a chief.”
Acevedo stated in an eight-page memo sent to the city manager and mayor prior to those meetings that Carollo and the other commissioners were interfering with internal affairs investigations and improperly ordering police resources to be deployed against specific establishments “based on nothing more than the whims of commissioners.”
He also accused the commissioners of impeding his reform agenda by removing positions.
Carollo and the other two Cuban American commissioners said they were deeply offended when reports surfaced last month that Acevedo discussed a “Cuban mafia” that runs the city with officers.
Acevedo later apologized, saying he didn’t realize that was a term used by former Cuban leader Fidel Castro to describe exiles.
“He has to be the only person of Cuban descent in the world who doesn’t know that,” Carollo said. “You’re not in the heart of the Amazon.”
The commissioners claimed, among other things, that Acevedo has been hypocritical in firing officers for some of the things he is accused of doing.The UK police will not take action against Prince Andrew despite allegations of abuse
Carollo, the most vocal opponent of Acevedo’s leadership, examined an older photo in which the police chief was seen using a “white power” hand gesture similar to the OK hand sign, claiming Acevedo relieved a Miami officer of duty after being accused of using the same gesture.
Carollo and another commissioner are also looking into the damage to Acevedo’s SUV, which they believe was not properly reported. They claim it was similar to the incident that resulted in Acevedo’s firing of the husband and wife cops.
While the city searches for a permanent replacement, Assistant Police Chief Manny Morales will serve as interim chief.
The Associated Press could not reach Acevedo for comment on his firing on Monday night.
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)Read on AP