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Mayor Suarez: Police Chief Acevedo has to go after ‘war with city’s elected leadership’

Did commissioners drive city manager’s decision to oust top cop?

Mayor Francis Suarez said Art Acevedo had the right qualifications to be hired earlier this year but that he backs the chief's removal because Acevedo's "personality and leadership style are incompatible with the structure of our city’s government."
Mayor Francis Suarez said Art Acevedo had the right qualifications to be hired earlier this year but that he backs the chief's removal because Acevedo's "personality and leadership style are incompatible with the structure of our city’s government."

MIAMI – Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who went to Houston to bring in Art Acevedo for a fresh perspective, said Tuesday that the police chief is too much of an outsider and he supports the city manager’s decision to remove him after just six months.

City Manager Art Noriega announced Monday that Acevedo was suspended with plans to terminate him.

A day later, Suarez broke a long silence on the brewing disagreements between Acevedo and three city commissioners who made it clear they wanted him out.

“Although it is clear that Chief Acevedo has the qualifications and the experience to be an effective chief of police, it is also obvious that his personality and leadership style are incompatible with the structure of our city’s government,” Suarez said Tuesday afternoon at City Hall. “The status quo where a top city administrator is at war with the city’s elected leadership is simply untenable and unsustainable.”

Suarez had helped recruit Acevedo from Houston to shake up Miami’s police department, heaping high praise when the chief was installed in April.

But he was more hands-off in recent days, letting the city manager Noriega make the decision to change the leadership.

“He was hired with a high level of expectations,” Suarez said of Acevedo, “and unfortunately not every hire works to your satisfaction.

“We want these situations always to work out, and they obviously haven’t under the structure of government that we have.”

Watch a replay of Suarez’s news conference below:

Acevedo did shake things up in his brief time in Miami. A brash persona with few filters, he fired veteran police department higher-ups, making enemies of the union and three of five commissioners (Joe Carollo, Manolo Reyes, and Alex Díaz de la Portilla).

But commissioners can’t fire the chief, only the city manager can.

Noriega did just that Monday, writing a letter that outlined reasons he sought to terminate Acevedo. In it, he made the same case commissioners did over an inquisition-like two days last month, especially Carollo.

If commissioners are driving this train, it’s déjà vu from 21 years ago. Carollo was Miami’s mayor then, furious that the police chief defied him over little Cuban migrant boy Elián González.

Carollo wanted his city manager to fire the police chief, but Donald Warshaw refused. So Carollo removed Warshaw as city manager.

Noriega, the current city manager, issued a statement about Acevedo’s removal but has not answered any questions about the decision.

On his ouster, Acevedo wrote an email to staff late Monday, saying, in part, “I promise to continue to fight the good fight to rid MPD of the political interference from city hall that unfortunately continues to negatively impact this organization.”

A hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday where Acevedo can make his case before the commission to keep his job.

See the full letter from Noriega to Acevedo 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."

David Selig is the Digital Executive Producer at WPLG, overseeing Local10.com.