Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Miami Beach seeks new police chief - current members 'need not apply'

Click image to enlarge.

Back on Sept. 15, the Miami Herald's David Smiley reported, "A search for a new Miami Beach chief of police will begin this month, and one elected official says members of the city’s embattled police department need not apply."

The story, posted on the paper's website, received little attention.

Smiley quoted Miami Beach Commissioner Ed Tobin as saying, "“The present candidate for chief, the assistant chief, [Ray Martinez] has been here for 10 years and I would say that I think the police department needs some fresh blood for a lot of different reasons.”

Commissioner Jerry Libbin told Smiley, “We probably will end up outside but I’m not opposed to looking inside” the department.

The City has already posted the chief's job on its website. (See screenshot above.)

Today, in a post on Facebook directed at Mayor Matti Bower and five of the Beach's 7 commissioners, Miami Beach resident and filmmaker Alfred Spellman asked, "So, what's going to be done" about Miami Beach's dysfunctional police department.

Commissioner Jerry Libbin was the only elected official to respond to Spellman's post:
Thank you for the link. I am fed up with the continuing revelations about our police department. That's why i have been adamant about the need for a new police chief who is committed to dealing with these issues and restoring confidence in the department. This means bringing in someone from the outside, as opposed to promoting from within. The search process for a new chief should be completed within the next 6-8 weeks. Then I hope it's a new day for the department. Stay tuned.
Libbin's adamant insistence that the search for a new chief be conducted outside the department means that he and Tobin need just two more commissioners to side with them.

Spellman responded to Libbin by saying:
Jerry I appreciate your response and I agree that an outsider needs to be hired. However what this really boils down to is accountability. Why are the officers who defrauded the citizens of Miami Beach for overtime pay being demoted rather than fired and referred to the State Attorney's Office for prosecution? Considering what Tim Elfrink at the New Times uncovered about the amount of overtime paid to officers over the past several years and in light of the recent overtime fraud exposed in David Smiley's reporting on the ATV scandal, would you call on Kathy Rundle's office to investigate the Dept to determine if the fraud and abuse is more widespread?
Then it was Miami Beach filmmaker Billy Corben's turn to weigh in. And he didn't hold back:
‎Jerry: You "hope it's a new day for the department?" That doesn't sound very promising. Why not clean house and make it happen? This has been going on for decades. Anyone in the private sector found to be committing this kind of fraud would be fired immediately. Your plan is to have Chief Noriega retire and the taxpayers finance his pension after he resided over what appears to be an out-of-control criminal organization? How do you expect a new day for the department when there is no legitimate accountability? I wonder what David Smiley will dig up next...

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