MIAMI (AP) — City of Miami commissioners held a special meeting in which they attacked the chief of police less than six months into his post, and voted to further investigate him and his appointment.
Police chief Art Acevedo had been criticized after firing two high-level police officials and relieving of duty a sergeant-at-arms. Acevedo also angered Cuban exiles earlier this month when reports emerged of remarks made by him saying the “Cuban mafia” ran Miami.
The Cuban-born chief apologized for the comments made to officers and said he didn’t know that was a term former Cuban leader Fidel Castro used to refer to exiles, arguing he was raised in California. Three of the five city commissioners are Cuban-American.
On Friday, Acevedo sent an accusatory eight-page memo to the mayor and city manager saying those commissioners were hampering his efforts to reform the police department by eliminating positions and interfering with internal affairs investigations. Commissioners on Monday said these allegations would also be investigated by the committee they were forming.
At the special meeting on Monday, Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo spent hours reading from a document that outlined instances where Acevedo was allegedly reprimanded in the past. He also questioned whether the city manager knew whether Acevedo had political aspirations.
At one point, Carollo played a video showing Acevedo entering the dance floor of a fundraiser to dance the cha-cha-cha and slapping a woman’s rear with a piece of paper, and another video of him impersonating Elvis Presley dancing the “Jailhouse Rock” in the iconic white jumpsuit.
“The pants are so tight. Is this something you believe is appropriate for a police chief?” Carollo said.
The Miami police union said this weekend that an internal survey showed many officers were not confident with his leadership and wanted Acevedo’s ouster or resignation.
Acevedo, 57, came to Miami after serving more than four years as police chief in Houston, where he gained national prominence by calling for gun control, marching with protesters after George Floyd’s death and criticizing former President Donald Trump.
Miami city mayor Francis Suarez then called him “America’s best chief.” And Acevedo vowed to reform the department, acknowledging communities of color are disproportionately impacted by bad policing. Suarez was not present at the commission meeting.
Ten years ago, city commissioners voted to oust a police chief, citing he violated orders about personnel moves. Miguel Exposito had drawn criticism over the fatal police shootings of seven Black suspects and had defended them saying they were part of a crackdown on high-crime neighborhoods.