15 October (NWN) — Officers in Miami voted unanimously Thursday night to sack Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo, bringing an end to his six-month tenure as the city’s top police officer.
Five commissioners voted at Miami City Hall to accept city manager Art Noriega’s recommendation to oust Acevedo after more than four hours of quasi-judicial hearings.
After the hearing, an emotional Noriega read a prepared statement in which he thanked those who supported him.
“What I want to say to all of you about the department and the community is to stand firm. Fight the good fight,” he told reporters. “After 35 years of policing, this is not the outcome I wanted for myself, my family, the department, or this community.”
A few days after the hearing, Noriega suspended Acevedo with the intention of setting him on fire, stating that their relationship “has become untenable and needs to be resolved immediately.”
Acevedo had been hired six months before from Houston, where he had been police chief since 2016, but during his short time in Florida he angered commissioners for posing for a photo with a member of the Proud Boys, who were referred to as the leaders of the city. Demolished “Cuban Mafia” and four majors.
He also accused the commissioners of interfering in the investigation of internal affairs and was said to have lost the trust and confidence of the rank and file.
Acevedo did not speak during the hearing, nor did his defense present witnesses as evidence because he objected to the proceedings.
Attorney John Bryan, defending Acevedo, told the commissioners that he believed the outcome of the hearing had already been decided and that the setting was unfair.
He argued that Acevedo’s firing was decided on September 24, the day his client sent an eight-page memorandum to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez calling on three commissioners to investigate international affairs and reform the department. was accused of interfering.
“He was suspended because he had the courage to do what many of us don’t dare to do: speak the truth to power,” Bryan said.
In her closing statement, Noriega’s attorney, Stephanie Marchman, countered that there was “sufficient, competent evidence” to approve the chief’s removal.
She said that Noriega had given eight reasons why he should be fired and that under the city’s charter any of them would suffice for termination.
The memo, she said, “was not the basis for [Noriega’s] decision to suspend the chief
She said Noriega had asked Acevedo to draw up an action plan and once he received it earlier this month “he knew it was time to move on because the chief failed to recognize or acknowledge that What were the issues?”
She cited the action plan’s cover letter in which Acevedo wrote that she thought her first six months were “successful as it pertains to operations, crime fighting, employer relations and community relations.”
“How can this city manager help the head move forward with respect to this department and effectively lead the department if the head himself doesn’t recognize or acknowledge that there are problems?” he asked.