Just when it looked like things couldn't get any worse for Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega, they have. From the Miami Herald:
A Miami Beach police officer who authorities say struck two people with his department ATV Sunday morning on the sands of South Beach was allegedly drinking on the job and joyriding with a woman at the time of the crash.This may be the final straw for Noriega.
Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega said the officer involved in the crash, which happened in the dark about 5:15 a.m. near Fourth Street, was supposed to be patrolling the beach Sunday because of a recent spate of thefts.
“This is a complete abandonment of common sense,” said City Manager Jorge Gonzalez, who said Noriega told him Sunday morning that investigators were awaiting the results of blood tests to determine whether the officer was drunk.
“We’ll see what the statements say, but I find it hard to find legitimate reasons why an on-duty officer would be doing whatever he was doing at The Clevelander if it’s an accurate allegation. And there’s no reason why anybody should be driving anybody on an ATV anywhere.”
Mayor Matti Herrera Bower said “I’m very upset about it. This is not something that should have happened. They’re supposed to be protecting the beach, not drinking.”
Gonzalez said both officers have been on the force for several years. “They haven’t been on my radar screen as far as problem officers,” he said.
He said the man and woman hit on the beach were “tourists or visitors to Miami Beach.”
Noriega said the officer involved in the crash has been relieved of duty pending the results of the different investigations into the crash. Noriega said he will move quickly — “I’m talking the next couple of days” — to punish either officer if investigators find they violated any department policies Sunday.
The chief and his department are already facing criticism for the May 30 fatal shooting of a man by a dozen police officers who fired over a hundred rounds on a crowded street.
A week after the shooting, the Miami Beach city manager's office was so frustrated by the lack information forthcoming from police headquarters, that they took the unprecedented step of issuing their own unsigned press release.
And more than a month after the Memorial Day shooting, Noriega has yet to give a complete explanation why his officers seized a television camera from a WPLG-TV photojournalist who was covering the incident.
But all of this may be the least of the Noriega's worries.
There are rumblings within the department over reports that Noriega has been handing out official police badges to select civilians. Stay tuned for more on this.