Miami Poised to Fire Police Chief Art Acevedo After Rocky 6 Months
In SummaryAs conversations about police reform intensify across the country, the city of Miami is poised to make a decision from the top to cut ties with police Chief Art Acevedo.
Miami police Chief Art Acevedo was once hailed the Michael Jordan or Tom Brady of police chiefs, but after just six months on the job, he’s been suspended and informed that city officials plan to “terminate his employment,” per CNN.
“The relationship between the chief and the police department he leads — as well as with the community — has deteriorated beyond repair,” City Manager Art Noriega said, per The Miami Herald. “Relationships between employers and employees come down to fit and leadership style and unfortunately, Chief Acevedo is not the right fit for this organization.”
Acevedo “lost the confidence and trust of the rank-and-file” as well as his executive staff, according to Noriega’s memo, citing three instances in particular. He appeared to support a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for officers, received a vote of no confidence from the Fraternal Order of Police and failed to intervene after witnessing his deputy chief “verbally assault” his executive staff after a commission meeting.
Prior to his stint in Miami, Acevedo was the first Latino police chief in Houston, holding the position for four years and achieving national prominence as a progressive. He was praised for his stance on police reform and public safety as well as the Black Lives Matter Movement. His decades of experience also landed him in California.
BNC correspondent Stephanie Bertini sat down with Acevedo when he was two months in with Miami police, where they discussed his love for police work, his plans to combat the increase in gun violence in Miami and his belief that more needs to be done to assess a person’s mental health before they’re allowed to purchase a gun.
“We went from a country that should be embarrassed about the gun violence, to a country that has gone from bad to worse,” he said at the time.
Acevedo also said issues affecting his profession are causing more officers to retire out of fear of being prejudged. He went on to highlight how the climate of the country makes it crucial for officers to focus on training more carefully than ever, especially when it comes to bias, racism and policing.
“I want officers from day one to take their time. Take the time to think, then act, not act without thinking,” he said. “In policing, we have people that have racist beliefs just like society does. I think that the first step to fixing something, is you have to admit that there’s an issue.”
Acevedo’s attempts to reform the police department in Miami, however, was met with “staunch” pushback from not only city officials, but senior officials within the department and police unions, per “Making the Case” host Yodit Tewolde.
In a September memo to Noriega and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Acevedo accused three city commissioners of essentially interfering in an investigation in police work. It’s also been widely reported that the chief told officers within his department that “the Cuban mafia runs the Miami Police Department,” a comment he later apologized for.
Suarez said during a press conference on Tuesday, that while it’s clear Acevedo has the qualifications and experience to be an effective chief of police, “it is also obvious that his personality and leadership style are incompatible with the structure of our city’s government.”
In a one-on-one with the mayor, Bertini asked what he’d say to onlookers who believe Acevedo’s unforeseen fate is due to corruption within the police department.
“I would say that Miami has a phenomenal year,” said Suarez. “I don’t select the police chief; I don’t fire the police chief.”
Beginning Monday, Acevedo will be suspended for five days, after which his status in Miami will be decided by city commissioners, who are expected to do nothing but make his departure permanent. He is barred from issuing any commands, orders or directives, as well as removing or destroying any city records, materials or equipment, per CNN.
Bertini says Acevedo’s suspension is highly controversial and a lot of people in Miami are not happy with the decision.