"There's nothing more important than for our people to have confidence in our Police Department and for our residents and visitors to be safe." -Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine
UPDATED at 2:15 p.m., Feb. 17: A Miami Beach Police Department spokesperson says: "Officer Haughton is on administrative duty in a non-law enforcement capacity. The internal affairs investigation is ongoing and nearing completion, waiting on decision by Chief [Daniel] Oates."
A spokesperson for the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office said if Haughton was still under investigation by his office, there would be no comment forthcoming. I'm awaiting a final reply.
UPDATE #2 at 4:30 p.m., Feb 17: The Miami Dade State Attorney's office closed out its investigation of Officer Haughton last October without charging him.
From the close-out memo: "Though it is clear that the subject [Haughton] had property that did not belong to him, we cannot prove that he had Mr. Mayes' property. Accordingly the criminal investigation is closed. The matter will be handled administratively by the Miami Beach Police Department." [Close-out memo embedded below.]
A Miami Beach Police Officer who was relieved of duty last year after it was alleged he stole property from someone he arrested, has been quietly reinstated.
A source at Miami Beach City Hall tells me that Officer Gary Haughton is back on the job and working in Support Services.
Last year, the Miami Herald's David Ovalle reported that Haughton was being investigated by Internal Affairs "for stealing a black book bag from a shoplifting suspect..."
When he came under internal investigation for stealing a black book bag from a shoplifting suspect, Miami Beach Police Officer Gary Haughton offered to return the satchel, court records show.
But when Haughton took detectives to his apartment, they got a surprise. The black bag in his bedroom was different, according to the documents — and actually belonged to yet another man whom the officer once arrested for thievery.
The department has now relieved Haughton of duty with pay as detectives and prosecutors investigate him for stealing from at least two men while on duty.
The existence of the probe was revealed in a search warrant recently filed in Miami-Dade court. The potential charge: grand theft.
The investigation is the latest black eye for a police department hoping to restore its image after a slew of embarrassing episodes involving officers in recent years, including last month’s firing of a sergeant for getting drunk while on duty.
|Deputy Miami Beach Police Chief Lauretta Hill|
My source tells me that Deputy Miami Beach Police Chief Lauretta Hill went against a disciplinary board's recommendation that Haughton be terminated, and instead reinstated him saying that he "deserves a second chance."
I've requested comment from a department spokesperson on Haughton's return to duty and I'm waiting to hear back.