Photo of Coral Gables police chief at pool party causes controversy

CORAL GABLES, FLA. (WSVN) - A photo of the Coral Gables Police Chief attending a pool party with fellow officers has caused a controversy and two investigations.

The photo that started an investigation shows Coral Gables Police Chief Edward Hudak at a pool party with 14 female police officers in July.

Hudak was asked to attend the party, so he stopped by for a few minutes and took the photo. Afterward, someone took the photo and posted it to social media, claiming they were at the party and made allegations against the officers and the chief regarding their inappropriate behavior.

Then, someone sent an anonymous letter to the city manager, claiming the chief was inappropriate at the party and sexually harassed the officers — something which the officers deny.

The city requested an independent investigation into the chief. However, the Fraternal Order of Police claims the city still hasn’t looked into who posted allegations against the chief and the police officers, which they reiterate are not true.

“We went to the city in good faith, hoping that they would do the investigation, and unfortunately, all that came out of that was an investigation against the chief,” said FOP Lodge 7 President John Baublitz.

“Every one of them has said from the beginning that there’s no validity to any of the allegations that were posted on the internet — either the allegations that were made against the chief or the allegations, frankly, that were made against them,” said FOP Lodge 7 Attorney Osnat Rind.

The issue was discussed at the city commission meeting, Tuesday.

During the meeting, the mayor asked why an anonymous complaint led to an investigation, while a complaint by 14 officers did not.

“I find this very, very troubling,” said Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli. “That is wrong, Madame City Manager, and I’d like a response to this.”

“It is inappropriate for me to speak about the ongoing investigation,” responded Coral Gables City Manager Cathy Swanson Rivenbark.

The mayor then invited the police chief to speak.

“I see this as a form of malicious harassment that is an ongoing issue from anonymous letter-writers towards the department and to me, which usually we do not respond to,” said Hudak at the meeting.

According to the FOP, the officers in the photo feel that they are being used by someone with the city to damage the chief’s reputation.

“They feel like they’re being victimized for a second time — first by the blogger and now by the city,” said Baublitz.

As the independent investigation continues, the city has also launched an internal investigation to see if anyone with the city was behind the ugly allegations on Instagram.

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