MIAMI-FL – Last Thursday, the Miami City Commission voted to strip the Miami Police Department of its power to investigate officer-involved shootings. The decision comes as nationwide outrage has brought police brutality and misconduct to the forefront of the national conversation.
Prior to the vote, Miami City Manager, Daniel Alfonso, said
“There’s a perception that to have internal folks investigate our own people could create a bias…It reduces the likelihood of former partners investigating each other.”
Pursuant to the vote, Miami police shootings will now be investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which many will still consider a conflict of interest considering the FDLE is also “law enforcement.” Nevertheless, this is a small win for those concerned with police corruption and violence.
But at least one police officer was outraged at the decision, throwing a tempter tantrum in an open retaliatory letter riddled with typos, grammatical errors, and fallacies. Miami Lodge Order of Fraternal Police President, Sergeant Javier Ortiz, sounded off on the Miami City Commission:
“Everyone is worried about police oversight and how police officers need to be held accountable for their actions. Everyone is worried about how we do our job. But, who worries about the six homicides this year in the past seven days?
He ignored the high rate of police murders and even went so far as to claim police do not contribute to the deaths in Miami:
“Miami cops aren’t killing people. Bad people in our community are killing our loved ones.”
Unfortunately, this is at best incorrect and at worst an outright lie. The problem of police shootings in Miami has been so bad that in recent years, the Department of Justice launched an investigation. It found that in 33 police-involved shootings between 2008 and 2011, officers exhibited a pattern of “excessive force.” This conclusion was reached in part because of the lack of weapons near many of the victims.
Here are just a few police incidents in recent years:
- In 2010, cops killed 28-year-old unarmed black man, Travis McNeil, at a traffic stop. He was the seventh black man killed in 8 months, but in September of last year his uniformed killer was given $71,000 of back pay and his job back.
- On Memorial Day, 2012, a 16-year-old teenager carrying a baseball bat for protection from bullies was shot dead with 9 bullets in the back. Police were cleared of wrongdoing.
- This past December, an officer with a long history of aggressive behavior ran over 21-year-old graffiti artist, Delbert Rodriguez, who died. Police were accused by witnesses of fabricating their story.
- In 2014, upstanding 22-year-veteran Miami police officer, Ralph Mata, was charged with running cocaine and plotting to murder rival gang members.
The last officer to be convicted of so much as manslaughter for murdering a civilian was in 1989, which set a dangerous legal legacy for the way the courts deal with police-involved shootings.
Still, Sgt. Ortiz had the audacity to fallaciously claim that police should be given free reign because non-officer involved shootings occur in Miami. It is lost on him that it is unwise to allow murderers to investigate and stop murder.
He also employed the illogical talking point that crime will continue without police action:
Let’s see how many more people will be murdered in the next two weeks by the next commission meeting. Will someone bring up that people are dying at an alarming rate and our residents are living in fear?”
He obviously hasn’t been paying attention to New York City, where cops have scaled back policing and crime has not exploded.
Regardless, Ortiz’s outrage at the reasonable move to have police murders investigated by someone other than the cops who commit them is a good sign. It shows the fear of being exposed and held accountable for murder that police now harbor.
Police often say that if people aren’t breaking the law, they have nothing to worry fear. And if police aren’t abusing their power, they shouldn’t be afraid to have someone else investigate.