Miami, FL – Miami Police Department (MPD) Chief Art Acevedo was suspended by the city manager on Monday in what was considered the first step to his termination after just six months as the city’s top cop.
“Today, I suspended Police Chief Art Acevedo with the intent to terminate his employment, consistent with the City Charter,” Miami City Manager Art Noriega said in a statement released on Oct. 11, according to WPLG.
“The relationship between the Chief and the organization has become untenable and needed to be resolved promptly,” Noriega continued. “In particular, the relationship between the Chief and the Police Department he leads – as well as with the community – has deteriorated beyond repair.”
“Relationships between employers and employees come down to fit and leadership style and unfortunately, Chief Acevedo is not the right fit for this organization,” the city manager added.
Noriega said that MPD Assistant Chief Manny Morales would act as interim chief while the city begins a search for Chief Acevedo’s permanent replacement, WPLG reported.
Chief Acevedo has been engaged in a very public fight with City Commissioner Joe Carollo and other lawmakers since he was sworn in, and has accused City Hall of interfering in police work.
He promised he wouldn’t give up after his suspension was announced, WPLG reported.
“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,” the chief wrote in an email to the rank-and-file of the department late on Monday.
Miami city commissioners held a special meeting on Sept. 27 because they were angry about the way the former Houston police chief began his administration of their city’s police department, KTRK reported.
City lawmakers were furious with Chief Acevedo for cleaning house and replacing those people with officials of his own choosing.
Commissioners were enraged when, after his staffing decisions were questioned, the new police chief said, “It’s like the Cuban Mafia runs Miami PD,” KTRK reported.
Chief Acevedo said the comment was a joke that referred to a lack of diversity within the police department wasn’t meant to be offensive to anyone.
He said he was making a point about the importance of diversity and wasn’t aware the reference was a derogatory nickname for the Cuban exile community in Miami.
Chief Acevedo was born in Havana, Cuba but grew up in California, according to KTRK.
Carollo, one of Chief Acevedo’s strongest critics, has said that he wanted the police chief to focus more on running his department and less on being “out there at every event,” WPLG reported.
“I will be darned if I am going to let a new transplant come here and think that he could do whatever the heck he wants to do or say,” Carollo told the other commissioners at the special meeting.
The city commissioners do not have the power to fire Chief Acevedo, but they can recommend his termination to the city manager.
The police chief answers to the city manager, and the city manager works at the will of the city commissioners, according to KTRK.
Other city commissioners have called for a full investigation, WPLG reported.
“We want an independent investigator — someone hired by the city attorney and will answer only to the commission and would have subpoena power,” Miami City Commissioner Manolo Reyes said. “Let’s investigate everything.”
The police chief went head-to-head with city commissioners in late September when he sent an eight-page memo to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami City Manager Arthur Noriega that alleged three of them had tried to interfere in an internal affairs investigation, KTRK reported.
Carollo was one the lawmakers that Chief Acevedo has accused of misconduct.
The commissioner said the police chief’s memo was “full of lies,” according to KTRK.
Chief Acevedo’s hiring was a controversial decision when it was made and it doesn’t appear that his popularity has grown in the five months since he became Miami’s top cop, WPLG reported.
There were trucks outside the special meeting about the police chief with signs that read “Art Acevedo, the LeBron James of self-promotion” and “He was sued by sex assault survivors for not taking rape seriously.”
City commissioners feel they should have had a bigger role in the final selection of the police chief.
The police chief, who was placed under a gag order by the city manager after his latest battle with city commissioners, submitted a 24-page plan to Noriega on Oct. 4 that addressed how he planned to deal with the issues raised a recent commission meetings, WPLG reported.
In the plan, which was released to the public on Oct. 5, Chief Acevedo said he “probably moved too quickly to affect change” in Miami and said he would adjust his approach and do more one-on-one meetings with commissioners.
Noriega, in his letter announcing the police chief’s suspension, called Chief Acevedo’s new plan “materially deficient, according to the Miami Herald.
“The chief presented no significant plan to solve either problem,” the city manager said.
Chief Acevedo is entitled to a hearing before city commissioners, WPLG reported.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s office announced he would hold a press conference to discuss the matter on Tuesday.