COCONUT GROVE, FLA. (WSVN) - - City of Miami commissioners held a second special meeting in less than a week over concerns about what they call controversial behavior by the city’s police chief.
Commissioners spent more than eight hours Friday discussing Chief Art Acevedo and his recent actions.
“What I am seeing and hearing from this police chief is scary, very scary, and how he’s acting,” said Commissioner Joe Carollo.
“I want to make it clear that this is not just a defense of elected [officials] up here, and we’re defending ourselves. This is also a defense of all the good men and women that risk their lives every day for us,” said Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla.
The battle of words comes days after a previous meeting that was held on Monday. No one held back when expressing their opinions about the new police chief.
“This is disgusting,” one woman said, “to have hired this chief is disgusting.”
“Chief Acevedo was brought here for a reason,” one man said. “It took courage for the city manager to understand that one day, today might happen, that his pick was gonna be challenged by all of you.”
Commissioners on Friday addressed the changes Acevedo has made in the department since his arrival, such as firings. They also looked into the chief’s short time in the city and his “questionable” past.
“Mister Manager, were you aware of this lawsuit filed in the City of Austin, Texas that Chief Acevedo was named in when he was the police chief?” said Miami District 3 Commissioner Joe Carollo.
“No, sir, I wasn’t,” Miami City Manager Art Noriega responded.
After several hours, commissioners moved to investigate Acevedo’s hiring process.
“The vote was taken unanimously,” one commissioner said.
The investigative panel is expected to look at everything pertaining to this matter from both sides.
Commissioners have also looked into claims from the chief alleging he faced interference from city officials while carrying out his duties.
“Until that investigation is completed, I am not going to make any comment on it, and I’m not going to make a decision,” said Miami District 4 Commissioner Manolo Reyes.
While Acevedo hasn’t spoken out publicly about either commission meeting, he did write a memo where he questioned several city officials and their actions, including Carollo.
“He knows that all the baloney he wrote down against any of us, he’d be laughed out of the Justice Department, the FBI, if they’re going to investigate all these ridiculous allegations, because they’re local issues, and he knows that,” said Carollo.
Carollo had a message for Acevedo: to arrest him if it’s true he has probable cause that Carollo and two other commissioners have committed crimes
“Stop threatening me, come right down and do it himself,” he said. “He himself could come down and have the guts to do it in a public meeting. If not, to shut his big mouth and to please quit threatening us.”
Acevedo was spotted on the second floor of Miami City Hall. He did not go into the chambers during either meeting.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez did not attend either meeting.
City of Miami Commission Vice Chairman Ken Russell admitted to skipping Monday’s meeting.
“In my opinion, the City Commission dais is not the place for that. This is the place for us to conduct the business of the city, and that’s why I didn’t attend on Monday,” he said. “I’m here today because there are budget issues that are being proffered, and I would absolutely not miss that.”
Russell also weighed in on the scrutiny that has resulted from Acevedo’s accusations.
“When you have a chief who wishes police reform, which is a very good thing, he must also recognize that with reform comes pushback,” he said, “and he must be able to navigate the politics of this city, of the politicians and of the unions, if he’s going to be successful. That’s not happening at this point, so I certainly supported the hiring of Chief Acevedo, and I support his vision for reform, but right now, the city is an absolute mess.”
Friday’s meeting also put the police department’s budget and spending under a microscope.
During the meeting, Noriega revealed that Acevedo has a weekend assignment.
“There was a letter issued to him which covered a number of particular initiatives and strategies of which he’s to present a plan to me by Monday,” he said.
Among those initiatives included in the letter are a policing plan, as well as a plan to increase officer morale.
Friday’s meeting began at 1 p.m. and wrapped up just after 9:30 p.m.
Acevedo left the building without responding to 7News’ request for comment.
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