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Miami city commissioners vote to investigate newly appointed police chief

It was 3 commissioners against the police chief and, in the end, they voted to investigate his hiring and any of his official moves that they feel are necessary
It was 3 commissioners against the police chief and, in the end, they voted to investigate his hiring and any of his official moves that they feel are necessary

MIAMI, Fla. – Sparks were flying on Monday as a special meeting was called by the Miami City Commission to discuss the future of the city’s newly appointed police chief. In the end, Miami commissioners, who had no part in hiring the new chief, voted 4 to 0 to investigate his hiring and to have an investigation look into any of his official moves that they feel are necessary.

The all-day meeting, which began just after 11 a.m. even though it was originally scheduled for 10 a.m. and lasted well after 6 p.m., was a power play Miami style – part meeting and part inquisition.

“This guy comes from the outside and all of a sudden says, ‘Hey, I know better than all of you. I’m the great reformer,’ " said Commissioner Joe Carollo, who had been the one to call the special meeting. “Mr. Acevedo thought he would intimidate me or some of us and (we would) bow down to him so he could do whatever he pleases here,” Carollo said publicly during Monday’s meeting.

Commissioners from the get-go bristled at Acevedo’s surprise hiring from Houston and how he “courted the cameras.” Commissioner Manolo Reyes pointed out Monday that “he was invited constantly on CNN.” Reyes had called for a resolution to launch an impartial and independent investigation into the claims in the memo and other alleged allegations.

[RELATED STORY: What’s with the war of words between Miami’s city commissioners and Art Acevedo?]

Lately, they watched him fire a veteran Miami police couple for an alleged car crash and coverup, and investigate who leaked photos of Sergeant at Arms officers with Mayor Francis Suarez’s family weekend in the Keys.

Acevedo, in a preemptive strike, launched a memo accusing three of the commissioners of interfering in investigations. The memo stated that Carollo threatened him, and that Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla tried to trade promises.

“It’s very clear that I consider them lies, outright lies,” Diaz de la Portilla said.

(See the eight-page memo Acevedo sent to mayor, city manager.)

The memo made Monday’s meeting so legally controversial that Chariman Ken Russell didn’t show.

Russell released a statement addressing his absence to Local 10 News.

“In light of the memo that Chief Acevedo sent to the Miami City Manager and Mayor on September 24th, I had several concerns. During discussions with the City Manager, City Clerk, and City Attorney this past weekend, I expressed my concern that public discussion regarding the accusations, or counter accusations that might be made against Chief Acevedo, would only serve to put the City of Miami at legal risk. With all due respect to three of my fellow Commissioners and their understandable interest in addressing the accusations made against them, I do not believe today’s special meeting should have taken place and I did not attend. I do believe that these accusations should be investigated and support that process moving forward.”

Commissioner Jeffrey Watson was present at the meeting but hardly said a word. However, it looks like Watson will be the chair of the investigative body that was decided on Monday.

A spokesperson from the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association stood at the podium to say that the association “wholeheartedly agrees with the essence of Chief Acevedo’s vision.”

What does Acevedo think of all of this? He laid low on Monday and didn’t speak to the commission nor to Local 10 News.

After the meeting, Mayor Francis Suarez released a statement about the proceedings.

“Today I closely followed the Commission’s special meeting regarding Chief Acevedo, from my office in City Hall as is my custom during Commission meetings. Any adversarial situation between city administrators and the elected leadership that becomes personal in nature is both uncomfortable and unfortunate. The City is at its best when the Mayor, Commissioners, and Administrators are working in partnership as we have witnessed over many months. Due to the legal issues involved and the existence of an ongoing criminal investigation, I cannot comment further at this time. However, I can share that in the weeks leading up to today’s special meeting, I have been in dialogue with city leaders in an effort to address this situation as expeditiously as possible, and I will continue actively engaging all parties in search of a satisfactory resolution to this matter. I look forward to soon refocusing the city’s attention on improving quality of life and delivering excellence for all our residents.”

(Watch the morning and afternoon sessions below.)


About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.