Miami commission fires Chief Art Acevedo. What’s next? Start with less drama | Editorial

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article attributed this quote to Interim Miami Police Chief Manny Morales. “The entire department, from the rank-and-file to the executive staff has lost confidence in the chief.” Morales was actually summarizing the results of a union vote on Acevedo’s leadership taken by the rank-and-file.

The other shoe finally dropped just after 7:30 p.m. Thursday as Miami city commissioners fired Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo with a unanimous vote, ending another unusual chapter of Miami politics.

It was showtime at the City Commission, which held a pseudo-criminal trial for Acevedo. This one came with video evidence and testimony from several members of the chief’s command staff, who did not mince words about their boss’ failings.

One could imagine Acevedo asking, “You, too, Brutus?” in the packed commission chambers.

Summarizing the results of a union vote on Acevedo’s leadership for the commission., Interim Miami Police Chief Manny Morales said a union poll revealed that the majority of officers agreed with the statement that: “The entire department, from the rank-and-file to the executive staff has lost confidence in the chief.”

Carollo on a roll

The chief, who sat in street clothes in the audience, declined to address the commission, per his attorney’s instructions. He passed on defending himself of eight charges his direct boss, City Manager Art Noriega enumerated to justify his firing. Some were legitimate points; some were petty and overblown. Of course, the same can be said about the commission proceedings these past weeks.

After five hours of chatter, Commissioner Joe Carollo, who led the charge to fire Acevedo, encouraged the chief to defend himself. So did Commission Chairman Ken Russell, just before the final vote. “You leave us no choice,” Russell said. The chief was fired. As if there had been a choice. Acevedo’s suspension on Monday all but sealed his fate.

Oh, and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who brought us Chief Acevedo, was not visible in chambers to watch his hand-picked chief get taken down. We’ve discussed his shameful absence from the entire spectacle. We don’t have to do it again. ‘Nuff said.

It’s not over

Now, it is time to put on hard hats for the fall-out for this fiasco.

Acevedo, who after the vote spoke outside city hall, has set the stage to declare his firing a whistle-blower case. In a voice cracking with emotional, Acevedo vowed to continue fighting to keep politicians from interfering with the department’s work.

In closing, his defense his attorney John Byrne brandished he chief’s eight-page memo in which he detailed his revelation of wrongdoing and interference by commissioners as the real reason for his firing, that and for being a tough reformer within the department.

Brace for the lawsuits.

How much will this cost the Miami’s, in money and dignity, has yet to be determined. Same with how much it will hurt Suarez’s career and his potential quest for higher office.

Acevedo’s firing is making national news. Financially, the city must give him at least six weeks’ severance based on his $315,00 annual salary, plus other perks for his 192-days as chief, but that’s likely to be disputed and grow to an embarrassing amount of cash.

Now, Suarez and City Manager Noriega, both bruised by this ordeal, should brush off their clothes, stiffen their backbone and get back in the game of finding a solid leader for the damaged Miami police department.

They’ll do themselves — and the city of Miami — a huge favor if they follow the hiring process this time around.

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