MIAMI – Back in March, when Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced that the city would appoint Art Acevedo, the Houston police chief, to head its police department, Mr. Suarez told the local newspaper that the hiring was “like getting the Tom Brady “Be or the Michael Jordan of police chiefs.”
His starpick lasted barely six months.
On Monday, Miami officials said they had decided to suspend Chief Acevedo with the intent of firing him and showed the chief the door after a controversial tenure during which he clashed with powerful elected commissioners who turned their grievances against him into one A number of town hall meetings were held, which often turned into spectacle.
“The relationship between the boss and the organization has become untenable and needs to be resolved immediately,” said Art Noriega, the city director, in a statement. “Employer-employee relationships are all about fit and leadership, and unfortunately Chief Acevedo doesn’t fit into this organization.”
Chief Acevedo made a number of decisions and comments that infuriated commissioners, including firing or demoting several top officials in the department, investigating a town hall constable, and posing for a selfie at a pro-Cuban democracy protest with a prominent member of the the Proud Boys, whom the chief said he did not know.
The chief also said that the police department was run by a “Cuban mafia” – as a joke, he said – and later compared the reaction of the commissioners to his actions with “the repressive regime and police state” of communist Cuba. The majority of the commissioners are Cuban Americans, as are Chief Acevedo, although he grew up in California and not in the Cuban exiled stronghold of South Florida.
Mr. Noriega had initially asked Chief Acevedo to come up with some kind of improvement plan, which the Chief did. But at least one city commissioner said this step was insufficient. For weeks it had been clear that Chief Acevedo had never won commissioners who were stunned by his surprising attitude. Mr Noriega did not strongly defend Chief Acevedo before the Commission at its meetings. Mr. Suarez did not show up at all.
Chief Acevedo, despite his open nature, has not spoken out publicly as his tenure has unraveled in recent weeks. (His national profile came in part from his frequent Twitter posts.) He thanked the department in a letter Monday night.
“It has been a privilege to serve and fight for you with you,” he wrote on a copy of the letter put online from WPLG, the local ABC news station.
Chief Acevedo had accused several city commissioners of improperly meddling in personnel decisions, and he did not back down from this position in his memo.
“I promise to continue the good fight to free MPD from the political interference of the town hall, which unfortunately continues to negatively affect this organization,” he wrote.