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MIAMI'S CHIEF OF POLICE JORGE COLINA IS A POLITICIAL OPPORTUNIST WHO HAS NAKEDLY TRIED TO EXPLOIT THE MURDER OF GEORGE FLOYD TO ENHANCE HIS RESUME, WHILE HOPING THAT NO ONE LOOKS AT HOW HE'S RUN HIS POLICE DEPARTMENT

You know that if the Miami Police Department had arrested anyone involved in setting cop cars on fire, Colina and the Mayor would still be standing in front of microphones bragging about how good their police work had been, so the fact that they haven't leads me to believe that they didn't arrest any of the real trouble-makers, and worse, that they probably had few, if any undercover cops on the street on Saturday.

The failure to anticipate the possibility of trouble, and the obvious failure to catch the protesters who set fire to cop cars on the street outside of police headquarters when the crowd was at best 300-400 protesters, is not a sign of the caliber of the leadership of a chief and his command staff that merits being bragged about.

Yesterday one of the local channels did a feature on the City of Miami's new police command center that has the ability to monitor hundreds of TV cameras set up around the city.

Technology is always evolving, and being watched by cameras has now become a staple of life in most cities around the world, but even though the police spokesman bragged about their ability to monitor events like the protests at their command center, the fact of the matter is that at the end of the day, it was an obvious lack of on-the-ground intelligence that led to the Miami Police Department to look and act like Keystone Cops scrambling to get a protective force around police headquarters when the protesters showed up at their rear door of their headquarters, which provided the opportunity for the fire-bombing of the police car left on the street as well as the looting of the shops at Bayside.

Had the county had not had their cops there for backup, things could have gotten really out of hand on Saturday night, and that's an observation that a growing number of people are beginning to understand and appreciate, because it's now clear that the Miami Police Department had not anticipated or planned for much of what actually occurred that day.

Almost any police force can regroup and get their act together on the 2nd day of a multi-day crisis, but it's the initial preparation and the actions that take place before, and on the first day that separate the really smart, well managed departments from all the others.

I will leave it to others to sort out these and other problems that exhibited themselves on Saturday, because I think that what is more important to focus on now is this continuing effort of Colina to portray himself as some progressive, forward thinking tough. but fair cop when in fact in many ways he is like just about every other City of Miami police chief before him, a political hack who only became Chief after agreeing to become the sock puppet for the Mayor and City Manager who appointed them.

That he is more accessible and articulate than his predecessors does not mean that he is any more competent than the other home grown, hand-picked and high paid ass-kissers who came before him, and that everyone was happy to see go off into retirement with a six-figure pension after a couple years of incompetence or political pandering, and often under a cloud of some sort.

To understand what Jorge Colina has been to as chief, you need to look beyond his comments about the murder of George Floyd, and focus on some of the decisions he's made as chief.

PART I - THE CIVILIAN INVESTIGATIVE PANEL

On Sunday night, Miami's CBS affiliate WFOR, featured a long interview with Jim Defede, the host of their Sunday morning public affairs show, and chief investigative reporter.

Defede, who had a prior history as an investigative reporter covering local politics for both The Miami New Times and the Miami Herald, spoke at length with the kind of context so lacking in so much of the reporting of other local stations about specific issues affecting police behavior and the Black community in Miami, and focused on the issue of the efforts several years ago to have a civilian investigative panel created at the county level.

The county commission approved it's creation, but Mayor Carlos Gimenez vetoed the ordinance.

It's believed that he did so purely out of personal political considerations involving an expectation that his vote against the creation of this group would result in support from the police union for his future political plans.

Civilian Investigate Panels are seen by some as a useful vehicle to provide oversight to police departments, but their history in Miami has been both complicated and less effective than many would have liked or expected when it was first formed in 2002.

The one thing that has remained constant from the day it was created to today is that NOT ONE Chief Of Police, including Chief Jorge Colina has ever accepted a recommendation for the punishment of any of their officers from the panel or acted on any of their findings.

Now, there are reasons why this has never happened, including legal arguments over the fact that many officers who are notified of a complaint having been filed against them refuse to appear before the panel, and then turn around and argue that the panel was biased because their side of the story was not told, but that's a secondary issue, because in many cases those officers gave statements to IA, which in turn became part of the CIP's investigative process.

The number one reason however, and one that nobody wants to talk about is that every chief has believed that if they do agree to act on  the CIP's findings they will be seen as surrendering their command authority to a civilian panel, and even worse a civilian panel that many police officers and command staff have little, if any respect for.

There are numerous examples of CIP findings that officers were guilty of the bad behavior they were accused of that no one could disagree with, but those finding have all gone into a file cabinet never to be seen again.

One of those cases resulted in a strongly worded letter addressed to Colina that pissed him off so badly that he went crying to the Mayor to have him tell the CIP to lay off.

But before we get to that story, here are several other current situations that provide a look at the way that Jorge Colina deals with problem officers.

ISSUE NUMBER ONE: JAVIER ORTIZ

It's been approximately 4 months since Colina removed Captain Javier Ortiz from duty with pay.

No one knows, and no one has seen any documentation that provides any concrete basis or explanation for that action, although Ortiz has left a decade long trail of misbehavior, illegal use of force, perjury and other acts that account for 42 separate complaints having been filed against him, which in and of themselves should have been reason enough for the Chief to have done something about Ortiz long before now.

Most civilians aren't aware of the Officers Bill of Rights 180 Rule that says that an officer must be provided with notice of alleged misconduct within a 180 day period or that officer cannot be criminally charged, and now that Ortiz has been sitting at home still collecting his $120 thousand plus salary, there is beginnings to be rumblings that whatever so-called accusations that Clina used to sideline Ortiz, they will only be revealed to him and the public after those 180 days have expired.

This 180 day rule has been used repeatedly as a way to protect those in the Family and Friends Plan from having to face the real consequences of their actions, and among the most notorious examples of the misuse of that rule was Javier Ortiz's BFF Edward Lugo, who after riding around in the back seat of an FBI informant's car while being pitched on becoming an escort for drug dealers moving drugs north on I-95, was never charged for that behavior.

I wrote about Lugo and that case in 2011, and thanks to the 180 Rule, Lugo walked away with a similar relieved of duty punishment and then went on to become a Sergeant and replaced Ortiz as the president of the FOP police union.

Colina has given Ortiz a number of free passes in the past, and there is a real question of whether this latest gambit is just another free pass to allow Ortiz to lay low until the furor over his claiming to be a Black man cools off.

ISSUE NUMBER TWO: SERGEANT MARIO MENEGAZZO

On May 4th, Internal Affairs closed the investigation into the actions of Sergeant Mario Menegazzo and his arrest of Dr. Armen Henderson while he was cleaning out his van in a neighborhood area where a lot of illegal dumping had been taking place.

Copyrighted:  2011,2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

NUMBER 142 - JUNE 4, 2020

CRESPOGRAM SERIES

The possibility of justice being delayed in Minneapolis might be upsetting for the Chief, but the delay of justice for Dr. Armen Henderson in Miami is just another day at the Miami Police Department.

ISSUE NUMBER THREE: YOINIS CRUZ PENA

Over two years ago Yoinis Cruz Pena crashed his motorcycle over the retaining wall on the Rickenbacker Overpass that leads onto the mainland and died.

By the next day I and others who had sources within the police department started hearing that Pena had been chased by Miami Police officers and his crash and death was a result of that chase.

Two year later there has been no final resolution to these allegations, even though credible evidence was uncovered by the City of Miami's Civilian Investigative Panel that, "basic crash evidence did not wind up on official police reports," and that in the months that followed additional evidence surfaced that none other than Captain Javier Ortiz had been in charge of the traffic control on the causeway that Memorial Day weekend.

The Miami New Times, did a story that detailed many of the problems with the investigation, and now two years later after a new investigation was promised on the basis of all of that new  information there's still been no news or resolution to the claims that evidence was withheld, and that Pena dies as a result of being chased by Miami cops.

ISSUE NUMBER FOUR: CIARAH RAMIREZ

On May 5th, the day after the IA investigation into the handcuffing of Dr. Armen Henderson by Sergeant Menegazzo, Ciarah Ramirez, a 23 year old woman was ejected from the car she was driving by a hit and run driver in Midtown Miami.

It was a nasty crash and the young woman died on the street, while her husband and a friend who were in the car with her were taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Again, as with the case of Yoinis Cruz Pena, it only took a day or two before the rumors staring coming out of the police department that the car that hit Ramirez's car was being chased by undercover City of Miami Police.

On May 13th, The Miami New Times did a story that revealed that 6 officers had been relieved of duty, and that they were under investigation.

Included in the story was the Chief's comments.

How long does it take to check the tracking records of the GPS units in those police cars to see whether they might have been involved in a chase?

The Chief had repeatedly made it a point about holding holding the police officers accountable in Minneapolis, but when it comes to his own department the evidence shows that he never seems to be in a rush either to hold anyone accountable or to demand conclusions to investigations that drag on sometimes for years, or until no one cares anymore.

PART I - THE CIVILIAN INVESTIGATIVE PANEL - LARNORA GRAVES

Lanora Graves is a Black woman with a 5 year old daughter who last year was living in the heart of the worst part of Overtown in a 2 story apartment building where she alleged that drugs were being sold out of the apartment next door.

She reported the sale of drugs to the police, and  here is the portion of the CIP's report that explains what happend after that.

There have been few press conferences or TV interviews in the last 10 days where Jorge Colina, Miami's Police Chief, and/or his partner in self-promotion, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, haven't voiced support for what a great job the other is doing, or more importantly declared that explicitly or implicitly as a result of their leadership Miami should be considered the model for how cities in the rest of the country should be handling the current civil unrest over the murder of George Floyd.

It is hubris of the first order for these two to claim that anyone, anywhere should look to them for guidance on how to run a city or a police department.

They've largely been able to get away with this because when it comes to asking hard-hitting questions based on any kind of knowledge of how the city and the police department is managed, the local news media demonstrates the institutional memory of gnats and worse what can only be seen as having an obsequious concern for not asking these guys embarrassing or challenging questions that might upset their delicate sensibilities.

The best example of this was when hours after Danny Rivero of WLRN reported that contrary to the claims made by the Mayor and the Chief on Saturday that the majority of the arrested protesters were from out of town, the arrest records showed that their claims were not true, these guys were still flogging that false narrative with little push back from the news media.

Colina continues to embrace this narrative as evidenced by his appearance on Fox news yesterday - where else - to supposedly now argue that even if you're from Miami and decided to engage in some vandalism you were still to be considered an outside agitator.

What no one has yet to ask the Chief is if he knew in advance that these "outside agitators" were coming to Miami - and he obviously had to know since he and the mayor were both making that claim while the protesters were on the streets on Saturday - then how many undercover cops and/or police academy cadets did he have on the streets on Saturday marching with the protesters as a way to identify and shadow any potential trouble makers, including the ones who set fire to the cop cars under I-95, so that an an opportune moment, when these trouble makers were in a place away from the crowd they could have been snatched up and arrested.

Around the country that practice has been a standard part of police work when dealing with potential trouble by protesters for decades, and even in Miami in 2003, under the leadership of Chief Timoney, he had undercover cops shadowing and arresting protesters on the street during the FTAA protests.

Here is one photo from my ebook that I took of a group of those undercover cops arresting someone on Biscayne Boulevard.

It is now 30 days since that investigation was completed that sustained three of the four violations that Menegazzo was accused of, including Discourtesy, and two counts of Improper Procedure.

Colina wasted little time in jumping in front of a TV cameras in the last two weeks to declare how upset he was about the killing of George Floyd, and how important it was to have those 4 cops dealt with expeditiously.

TODAY ALL THE MINNEAPOLIS COPS WERE CHARGED WITH SOMETHING!

TODAY NOT ONLY HAS MENEGAZZO NOT BEEN PUNISHED, BUT THERE HASN'T EVEN BEEN AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF WHAT THAT PUNISHMENT MIGHT BE!

The reason for that might be because Menegazzo is the son-in-law of Armando Aguilar Sr, the former president of the Fraternal Order Of Police Lodge 20 - Javier Ortiz took his place when he retired - and the brother-in-law of Armando Aguilar Jr., one of Colina's Assistant Police Chiefs.

Not only has it now been revealed that Menegazzo was one of a small number of family members of command officers who were hired under questionable circumstance 3-4 years ago, but Menegazzo was fast-tracked and promoted to Sergeant even though he managed in a very short number of years to rack up a total of 13 Use Of Force Complaints. (Here is the last page of his IA Profile Record.)

She then went to Internal Affairs and filed a complaint. After she learned that her complaint was denied she went to the CIP and filed a complaint with them.

The CIP investigated, and at their August 20, 2019 meeting, they voted to sustain charges of Negligence of Duty and Improper Procedure against Officer Paul-Noel, and Improper Procedure against Officer Brian Husel.

They forwarded their findings to Chief Colina, and it eventually was forwarded to Major Jesus Ibalmea, the Commander of Internal Affairs, who responded back to the CIP informing them that case was closed and that Larona Graves was basically a liar.

(You can find the complete packet with the above letter and the letter written to the Chief by the CIP Below.)

In addition to the official letter sustaining the allegations in the complaint, Eileen Damaso, the Chairwoman of the CIP sent the Chief a separate letter in which she detailed the agency's concerns about how IA conducted their investigation of this case.

This letter deserves you taking the time to read it, because it pissed off Colina so much, that I was told that he went crying to Francis Suarez demanding that he do something about it.

What I was told Suarez did, was call Damaso and Executive Director Christina Beamud in for a metting with him and the Chief where he allegedly chewed them out, and told them not to write anymore letters like this.

Regardless of what any of these people might say upon my revealing this letter and the meeting, the fact of the matter is that the letter speaks for itself, and I stand by my source that the meeting took place.

For those who support the creation of a county CIP, or those who expect that the current CIP do more, then the political fight that has to be waged requires allowing these groups to have subpoena power, to circumvent the police officers who refuse to respond to request for interviews, and they have to have some individuals appointed by independent agencies who are not the political pawns of the Mayor and city and county commissioners, and there has to be a mechanism where the police chiefs have to appear at commission meeting to report at least quarterly on how they responded to every report and/or recommendation that was made to them by the CIP regarding misbehavior by their officers..

Openness, accountability and transparency should be at the core of how these agencies operate, and how the police departments deal with the findings of these agencies.  

IN CONCLUSION

Being a cop is hard, at time dangerous and often frustrating work. It doesn't necessarily get better the higher up you go in a department, because instead of being shot at by bad guys, you can become the target of bad politicians who can in their own way be as dangerous as a moron with a gun.

In Miami, the recent history of police chiefs has left much to be desired. Miguel Exposito, after turning down a $200,000 bribe to retire, got fired - and not for the reason that Francis Suarez is now running around claiming that he orchestrated - and in the hearing before the city commission, the attorney who volunteered to come in and carry out the role of prosecutor turned out to be an attorney for the owners of the illegal gambling machines that Exposito had gotten into a habit of seizing to fuck with Mayor Tomas Regalado who was known to consort and take money from these guys.  

Manny Orosa, who earlier in his career had been the sergeant in charge of a squad of jump out drug cops who beat and stomped low level drug dealer Leonardo Mercado to death became a government witness against those officers in the ensuing criminal case.

After he survived being fired, and was appointed Chief, he also managed to demonstrate that he was more than happy to jump into the pocket of any elected official who called him for a little favor - like Commissioner Frank Carollo did when he called him up one afternoon after he was stopped for a traffic ticket.

Carollo was eventually forced to cop a plea to the ethics complaint that I filed against him about this incident, which along the way revealed that Orosa upon receiving Carollo's call tried to intervene on his behalf, and in the end he stated under oath during a deposition that he considered many of his officers to be "snitches" for providing me with information such as the cal that he took from the commissioner.

Rudy Llanes, left under the cloud of the legacy of derelict shipping containers with destroyed evidence under the I-95 Overpass and the 11 revolvers that went missing under his watch.

In comparison, Jorge Colina could almost be seen as stellar example of probity when looked at through the prism of what some of his predecessors have done, but that would only be if you chose to ignore the fact the many of the victims of the police brutality claims against Javier Ortiz and Mario Menegazzo involved Black or Brown folks, and that the while he might be willing and eager to spout off about how other police departments need to be sensitive to race relations, the treatment of Lanora Graves is a real example of what race relations continues to be about when it comes to the City of Miami Police Department.

Colina is expected to be leaving by the end of the year - his replacement had already been chosen - so the only question left is whether all the bullshit that Colina has been spewing will result in his being able to shoehorn himself into a cushy, high paying job where he can pontificate about what a great job he did while being the Chief of the Miami Police Department.

It's Miami, Bitches!