JULIE BRU LEGAL OPINION ON MEREDITH NATION

FOP NEWSLETTER


Dear Members,

I have received some questions from various FOP members stating that they want to know what is our position regarding our current administration.


I would like to start off by saying: I'm a Policeman, not a Politician.


As Police Officers, we are trained to observe things and make unbiased decisions based on what is right. I am not against the Chief. I agree with some of the decisions he makes. And, of course there are other decisions he makes that I don't agree with.


1·  Salary Adjustments of Demoted Staff Members- Many of our FOP members that were demoted did not have their salaries adjusted in a timely manner, resulting in overpayments in the thousands of dollars. Under this administration, bargaining unit members were ordered to give the overpayment back, even though it was gross negligence by the City of Miami. We have been in contact with our lawyers, who inform us that under arbitral law where “an employer makes an error in favor of employees, despite full knowledge of the facts, any monies paid out may not be recovered.” Elkouri & Elkouri, How Arbitration Works, at 1232 (6th ed. 2003). Estoppel principles may also bar any recovery. See Kuge v. State, Dept. of Admin., Div. or Retirement , 449 So. 2d 389 (Fla. 3d DCA 1984). Given the financial problems facing the City, I cannot understand why they would fail to correct this error. Given the fact that they have overpaid these employees with full knowledge of the error, the FOP will not agree to the recoupment of any monies by the City.


2·  Illegal Transfer of Officer David Patton- Officer Patton was removed from the Miami Police Mounted Unit. While patrolling his area on his mount, he had made contact with a stakeholder in the community that wanted to donate land (a training area) to the unit. It would have been a second area where there would be more visible police presence in the North District. Officer Patton made contact via email with Commissioner Marc Sarnoff regarding this nice gesture. The Chief's office stated they did not want the land because the Miami Police Stables at Loomis Park were suitable for the needs of the department. Officer Patton (on his personal email account and on his personal time) sent an email to Commissioner Marc Sarnoff stating that he was not in agreement with the Chief. Soon after, a slew of emails were sent between command staff and the unit supporting the fact that the Administration was going to unjustly transfer Officer Patton for speaking out. After his transfer, I immediately filed a grievance. I was told that there were no emails. Under the advisement of our attorneys, a public records request was sent and the emails that proved Officer Patton was unjustly removed from the Mounted Unit came to fruition. After going through the grievance process, the Miami Fraternal Order of Police successfully won and Officer Patton was reinstated in the Miami Police Mounted Unit.


3· Unjust Discipline of Sergeant Casiano- This Sergeant was issued discipline after his rights were violated under Article 8.1 of our collective bargaining agreement. He was ordered by a Major of Police to write a redline memorandum regarding a shooting incident and was disciplined. Per our CBA, all ordered statements MUST BE AUDIOTAPED. This case is pending arbitration and I am confident we will win this grievance.


4·  Off Duty Pay of Miami Police Officers in the "Rich Areas" Pay Less- We have filed a grievance because under the direction of our Chief of Police, the Special Events Office has lowered the off duty rate of our members that serve and protect citizens on certain jobs. Homeowners associations such as Natoma, Bay Heights, Brickell, and Wainwright Park pay our members a lower rate than a Police Officer working in crime ridden areas such as Overtown and Model City.


5·  Officer Valentin/Officer Fernandez Grievance- On April 8, 2010, these two Police Officers were arrested during the "corruption scandal". They were terminated before their criminal cases were heard in court. There is an enormous amount of past practice that when a Miami Police Officer is arrested, disciplinary action will not be taken until their criminal trial is concluded. Remember the saying "Innocent until proven guilty"? Not in this case. How many times do Police Officers get arrested and end up being cleared of all wrongdoing? ALL THE TIME. We are representing both Police Officers and I am more than confident they will both be found not guilty and reinstated.


6· Lt. Socorro Unjustly Transferred Out of SWAT- In December/2010, Lt. Socorro was at a meeting with several Lieutenants and Command Staff. In the meeting, there was talk by members of the administration that they must be loyal to the Chief. Lt. Socorro stated to two staff members that he would respectfully take orders from the Chief, but was not "loyal" to him. Due to him not hailing loyalty to the Chief, within 24 hours he was kicked out of the SWAT team for punitive reasons. Lt. Socorro who has over 200 SWAT missions, who is highly educated and experienced, recently won an FOP grievance to be reinstated back to the SWAT team.  


·  Police Involved Shootings- Chief Exposito has been vocal in supporting our Miami Police Officers involved in shootings. I would not expect anything less from him. They are all justified shootings and I would have done the same thing in ALL of them. Armando and I have been vocal with the public as well as the membership in support of these Police Officers.


·  Coconut Grove Halloween Incident- Two Police Officers were relieved of duty in response to a YOUTUBE video that was aired showing our members defending themselves from many of the animals we had to deal with on Halloween night. I was there. We were understaffed and it created a very hostile and dangerous environment for our cops and the good citizens that went there to have a peaceful time. I came out on several news channels defending the actions of our Police Officers that night. Our Mayor made statements that were premature. He isn't a Policeman, he is a Politician.


·  Channel Seven News Story on E/A Vega and Lt. Burmaster- A news story unfolded in the past week regarding an incident involving E/A Vega's daughter and Lt. Burmaster. There are allegations that Chief Exposito, Assistant Chief Blom, and E/A Vega interfered by abusing their positions of authority. When the investigation is completed, EVERYONE will see that there was NO ABUSE. In my opinion, this was completely blown out of proportion. I don't feel intimidated if Internal Affairs is watching me. Anyone that feels that paranoid must have something to hide. They can watch me all they want. I follow the rules and so should everyone else.


·  Channel Seven News Story and the Appointment of a "Public Safety Advisor"-  As we all know, the media will pick and choose what they want to show when airing an interview to the public. That was the case when they interviewed President Armando Aguilar. We continue to not intervene in the political squabble between the Mayor and the Chief. It isn't our role to get involved within the semantics of the gambling machines. We support the Chief's position regarding the police involved shootings. We do not support the hiring of a "Public Safety Advisor" when we have taken pay cuts and reductions in all of our benefits. Armando's position is either fire him or let him do his job. The constant feud between the Mayor and Chief is destroying the Miami Police Department. The City Manager doesn't need to hire an expert for $70,000 to do the Mayor's dirty work for him. Grow a pair and make a decision.

 

 

I'm a Policeman, not a Politician. We are the Fraternal Order of Police and we will continue to fight for your rights and hard earned benefits.


Fraternally,


Sergeant Javier Ortiz, Vice President

Miami Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #20   

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