Saturday, July 16, 2011

Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!

Miami Beach police chief Carlos Noriega is in trouble again.

Noriega heads a department where he most recently had to dismiss two officers after they drunkenly raced around a darkened strip of beach on police ATV's that ended with one of them crashing into a  couple on the sand.

Add to that the beating of a gay man and arresting a witness and seizing cameras from bystanders following a Memorial Day shooting by cops.

Now Noriega is being forced to recall honorary badges and ID cards he's given to friends; including one issued to a man once arrested on charges of impersonating a Miami Beach cop.

That's what the Miami Herald's David Smiley is reporting in a jaw-dropping story in Saturday's paper.
The honorary Miami Beach police badge and identification card, two of the most esteemed honors a police chief can bestow, are by definition given to a select group of exemplary activists, philanthropists and police supporters.

But facing questions about why a badge went to a man who was once arrested and charged with impersonating an officer on South Beach, Police Chief Carlos Noriega quietly called for the return of the special awards last month — citing concerns about police impersonators.
I made mention of Noriega's practice of handing out the badges in a July 4 post on this blog.

What's most astounding about this latest lapse of judgment by Noriega - a veteran cop with decades of experience - is his admission that after reading a newspaper story, it suddenly dawned on him that the police badges might be misused.

"Noriega decided on his own to recall the honorary badges and identification cards and place them on plaques after reading a June 11 Sun Sentinel article that raised concerns about police imposters," writes the Herald's Smiley.

Had the chief been a regular New York Times reader, he would have learned of the rash of police impersonation cases in South Florida two weeks before the Sun Sentinel article appeared.

Noriega Letter

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