Secret sexual harassment complaints resurface in Miami Gardens after chief's sex-for-hire arrest

In city of drive-by-shootings, scandals, new police chief wanted

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Interim Chief Antonio Brooklen, right, City Manager Cameron Benson, center, and Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III, left.

CORRECTION: An original version of this story reported Monday that Benson was a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, but the organization's assistant executive director John Howard said Tuesday that Benson is not registered as a member. 

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - No police department wants to have sexual harassment secrets exposed, as the police chief deals with a sex-for-hire arrest. Especially while the department deals with the case of an officer who killed a mentally ill man armed with a broomstick. But that has all recently happened to the Miami Gardens Police Department, already known nationwide for its extreme use of a stop-and-frisk policy.

The Broward Sheriff's Office arrested police Chief Stephen Johnson after he replied to a BackPage.com prostitution ad Friday night. Johnson, 53, was lusting over a $100, 30-minute threesome at a Dania Beach hotel, deputies said. Johnson said Saturday "the stress" of the job -- which he started in May -- had already "overwhelmed" him.

Some Miami Gardens police officers said Monday that they were even more stunned when they heard Antonio Brooklen was the new interim chief. One warned: "They better get a real chief in here quick." Another officer said, "I'm f*&^ outta here." And a detective said, "Sayonara. Tired of it." The BSO was getting job applications.

"It would be wrong anywhere to hear that your boss was arrested for prostitution and that the guy who is replacing him has a history of sexual harassment," a Miami Gardens police officer told Local 10 News. "But this is a police department. Are these people for real?"

A few years ago, a former crime scene technician accused the now-interim chief of sexual harassment. But during the investigation, police found texts messages related to marijuana in the accuser's phone. She had to leave her job. Brooklen was demoted, but he is now at the helm of the 7-year-old police department.

Miami Gardens' first police chief, Matthew Boyd, brought Miami-Dade Police Department veteran Brooklen to Miami Gardens on Aug. 27, 2007. When Boyd resigned Dec. 10, 2013 -- after the NAACP asked U.S. Attorney General to review possible civil rights violations -- Brooklen was a police captain. He became assistant chief in May.

When Brooklen was asked about the blemish on his record Monday, he referred the inquiry to the city's public information officer, whose response was, "Please refrain from contacting any personnel directly via phone or email."

In the world of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, Brooklen and  Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III  are fraternity brothers. The two have faced sexual harassment accusations during their careers.

City Manager Cameron Benson knows how it feels to have to walk out of a job with shame amid a scandal. In June 2011, he resigned from his $205,000 a year post as Hollywood city manager amid a long list of accusations. They included bungling the city's finances, sexual harassment and having police deliver a generator to his parents in Lauderhill. 

The FBI, the Broward County state attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated him, as he left with a severance package of nearly $300,000. There was insufficient evidence, and Benson was cleared of all wrongdoing.

Gilbert recommended Benson for the city manager job and he joined Miami Gardens April 2013.

Months later, Gilbert's former executive assistant Tiffany Adderley filed a sexual harassment complaint against the mayor. Benson transferred Adderley to public works, where she has worked as an administrative analyst since July 2014. City officials said the complaint filed against Gilbert was investigated and found to be without any merit.

CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIAL: Mayor welcomes any comments, questions or concerns you might have and can be reached at: ogilbert@miamigardens-fl.gov

Now Benson is looking for the new police chief who will inherit the troubled department.

For now, the interim chief will have to deal with the police-involved shooting that killed Lavall Hall after his mother, Catherine Daniels Brown, called police for help. Hall's family filed a lawsuit against the department. The 25-year-old had a criminal history and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. 

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