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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

JULY 23, 2013

MPD IN CRISIS

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ANONYMOUS LETTER TO US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT DETAILS SERIOUS PROBLEMS WITHIN POLICE DEPARTMENT

In many ways the Miami Police Department has never recovered from the scandals and missteps of the 1980’s when in an effort to address a problem with the lack of officers - this problem continues to plague the department - the department hired a number of unstable and unqualified police officers that resulted in dozens of those officers going to prison for crimes such as the River Cops case and the Leonardo Mercardo killing.


The city is once again in the same situation.  In the next year it is expected that somewhere between 300-400 officers will be retiring.  In addition, young officers - the next generation of leadership - are beginning to leave the MPD for other departments that pay better, and quite frankly are better managed.


Yesterday, an anonymous letter was circulated in a city-wide email blast that went to everyone employed in the city with a city email address.


Once it was discovered, I was informed that the city’s IT Department removed those emails from everyone’s email inbox.


Here is a copy of that email.  If you live or work within the city limits this email should alarm you. No one seems to know who wrote it, but I have been informed by several of my sources that the information in the letter is accurate, and that footnotes at the bottom of the letter attest to the accuracy of the allegations being made.


What is especially alarming is the way in which the senior staff were removed from their positions as a form of punishment for something beyond their ability to control.


This is not only bad leadership, it once again underscores just how political the department has become under the administration of Tomas Regalado.


This is very serious, and I would ask each of you who read this to forward this story to as many family, friends and work colleagues as you can.

July 22, 2013



This letter is being sent out to the following individuals/entities:



·        United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division

          Elected Officials of the City of Miami

          The general media


Dear Interested Parties,


This letter is being sent out in order to give all of you a glimpse of the internal turmoil of the Miami Police Department. The current administration has been doing an exceptional job in covering up the issues within their organization. They have made it a point to do whatever it takes in order to protect their interests as well as the political figures in which they are indebted to.

In the latest investigation from the U.S. DOJ, they point out that the City of Miami has serious training issues. Well, this couldn't be more true. Unfortunately, unless you work for this police department, you'll never be able to piece together how bad it really is and the players involved. After you read this letter, we will give you the tools to verify everything that is pointed out here.

In the history of the field training officer (FTO) program at the Miami Police Department, we have a 100% passing rate. This means that no one has ever been terminated from the program while under the direct supervision of a field training officer. The administration will try to counter that with police officers like Officer Abia or Officer Juchnowski. Both  of these police officers had finished the FTO program. Again, we have a 100% passing rate which shows we have no standards and will pass everyone in order to get cops on the street. As long as you have a heartbeat, you're hired.

The Miami Police Department is under incredible pressure to hire more police officers. With the amount of police officers looking for employment elsewhere, retirements, hundreds in the DROP program and poor pay and benefits, it is a losing battle. It has gotten so bad, that our own labor union is advocating for our police officers to leave. Due to these pressures, the Miami Police Department leadership has taken the position that we must pass all police officers that are in the FTO program in order to help our numbers.

Training has been virtually eliminated. There is such a shortage of police officers on the street, the Chief has cut training of new police officers to four weeks. Prior to this, training for new police officers was eight to twelve weeks. The last few batches of new police officers no longer receive DUI/BTO training, very limited or no scenario based training, and other classes have been removed. For the most part, these laterals that we are hiring are individuals that paid their own way through the academy. They have no formal experience prior to being hired by the MPD. Many of these candidates have waited to be picked up by a police department for one to three years. That means that the knowledge in which they acquired in the police academy has gone stale. They also have received their training from any law enforcement training institution. The advantage of hiring and sponsoring our own academy is from the time they are trained to their graduation, they are spoon-fed our departmental orders, standard operating procedures, and the way things are done properly at the MPD. Once they graduate the academy, they immediately are put through the field training program and then to the streets to serve the public. By training them from the beginning, we lower our chances of mishaps and give the candidate the best chance to succeed. The current process is broken. Our commissioners think the way to get more cops is by hiring certified or laterals. We may save money by not training them in the academy, but the liability of not training them when they get here is enormous.


The Miami Police Department is demonstrating negligent training, negligent retention of employees that show red flags, and deliberate indifference when a problem is identified.

We will now identify two candidates that are currently employed and the City of Miami Police Department will do whatever it takes to keep them in order to hit the numbers promised to the Commission. Both police officers are good people and very respectful. They are just not meant to be police officers.


Officer Henry Barajona (IBM 40735) was hired July 23, 2012. Officer Barajona self-sponsored himself and graduated from the police academy in September/2010. For about two years, Officer Barajona had no contact or hands on experience prior to being hired by the MPD.

The FTO program is a standard four month process. Your first FTO will also be your last FTO in the fourth month. The reasoning behind this is so the police trainer can compare a new police officer from when they started the program to the last month. In those four months, Officer Barajona has demonstrated serious officer safety issues, lack of job knowledge, and issues with comprehension to name a few. His FTO met with her supervisors (Sgt. Tracy Sloan (Field Training Sergeant) and Lt. John Yavneh (Field Training Captain). After they reviewed thoroughly the daily FTO sheets of Officer Barajona, it was determined that there were serious issues in his performance as a police officer.


On the fourth month, the FTO rides in the passenger seat in plain clothes allowing the police officer in training the chance to make independent decisions and to be evaluated on how they will be on the streets alone. Officer Barajona on his fourth month pulled over a vehicle for a simple traffic infraction. Officer Barajona approached the driver's side vehicle and asked for the driver's drivers license and paperwork. Officer Barajona asked if there were any weapons in the car. The driver stated he had a handgun in his glove box. It was apparent that Officer Barajona wasn't listening or paying attention. Officer Barajona ordered the driver to give him the vehicle registration and insurance card. The driver followed the directive and reached to get the paperwork from the glove compartment. His FTO (who is in plainclothes on the passenger's side of the car) heard the driver state there was a gun. The FTO takes over and advises the driver not to reach into the glove compartment and tells Officer Barajona that there is a gun in the car. To add insult to injury, Officer Barajona removes the gun from the glove compartment and places it loaded on the trunk of the driver's vehicle. He then leaves the loaded gun unattended on the trunk and proceeds to get the vehicle registration from the driver. He then takes the loaded firearm into the police car and begins to run the serial number from the driver's seat. At no time does he unload the firearm to make it safe. After he runs the firearm, he hands it to the civilian driver fully loaded.  You don't have to be a police officer to understand the serious liability the MPD has when a police officer leaves a loaded gun unattended. It is against our protocols to be handling a firearm loaded for examination due to the liability of having an accidental discharge. We also never hand a loaded firearm to a civilian due to possible accidental discharge or that civilian has the opportunity to use it against a police officer. Imagine if the FTO would have not intervened. Officer Barajona would have shot and possibly killed this driver when he reaches into the glove compartment, when the driver was simply obeying his commands. It would have been another unjustified killing due to negligent retention and poor training.

FTS Sloan and FTC Yavneh met with Officer Barajona to discuss the issues identified in the FTO sheets. Officer Barajona agreed and had no objections to the concerns identified. Seeing that Chief Orosa had cut this Officer's training by several weeks to appease the commission to get numbers on the street, the FTS and FTC recommended that Officer Barajona to be transferred to the training unit for one week. In the training unit, their mission is to educate and prepare the police officer to be able to master whatever deficiencies they have. Once they are released from the training unit, the FTO program will evaluate the police officer to ensure they have mastered that deficiency in order to be successful on patrol. The training unit recommended an additional two weeks of training. Officer Barajona was in the training unit for a total of three weeks.  Officer Barajona was then placed with a senior FTO. Officer Barajona failed to meet the minimum standards again. During this entire process, Officer Barjona was brought into meetings to assist him in his deficiencies. He was even offered our Employee Assistance Program.  At this point he had been in the FTO program for a total of seven months and was not mastering the minimum skills to be a police officer for our agency.

FTC Yavneh met with Officer Barajona and went over the deficiencies with him. At no time did Officer Barajona contest any of the issues brought up by all of the FTOs. FTC Yavneh advised Officer Barajona that he was going to recommend for him to be terminated. Officer Barajona was placed at the front desk of our police headquarters. A 13 page executive summary was prepared by FTC Yavneh and sent up the chain of command explaining why Officer Barajona should be terminated. Assistant Chief Brown was not happy about this recommendation because it affected their mission of hiring as many police officers as they can to put cops on the streets. He ordered for Officer Barajona to be placed with another FTO and revaluated again. Mind you, Officer Barajona is now on his eighth month FTO. The program's standard is four months. The order was complied and Officer Barajona was placed in uniform with a new FTO. The FTO evaluates Officer Barajona and documents that he isn't meeting our minimum standards. A/C Brown orders for a new evaluation with the goal of someone recommending this police officer to be free on the street to do police work. Commander Ferro was sent an email directing for a new memo to be completed evaluating Officer Barajona's performance this past June. FTC Yavneh was given the order on 7/16/13 who works the midnight shift. On 7/17/13, the recommendation for termination (with six pages of reasons why) was sent up the chain of command for review. Within 24 hours on 7/18/13, A/C Brown sends an email to FTC Yavneh removing him from the FTO program. Major McQueen who also recommended termination was removed and replaced by Major Herbello. It is more than obvious that since FTC Yavneh and Major Mcqueen wouldn't pass these two police officers, they must be removed from the equation. This is clearly retalitaion. Officer Barajona is currently working the front desk at headquarters. It is said that he will be released to the street riding two man with a regular police officer (not with a FTO). The removal of FTC Yavneh and Major McQueen from the program is the regular tactic this administration uses when you have your own opinion on something or goes against their mission.

Officer Douglas Duenas (IBM 40744) is the second example. Officer Duenas was hired at the same time as Officer Barajona was. He paid for his own academy. He has in his file a letter of recommendation from a high ranking Hialeah Police staff member (We believe it's the Chief of Police who is friends with our Chief) stating what an asset he would be to our organization. What is interesting is Officer Duenas applied for employment as a police officer for Hialeah and was denied. Furthermore, he failed the Florida Basic Abilities Test (FBAT) THREE times when he attempted to get into the police academy. In order to become a police officer and attend a police academy, you must pass this examination.  Individuals who desire to enter a basic recruit training program for law enforcement or corrections must first pass a basic abilities test. This test is based on a job task analysis which are adopted by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. It predicts the likelihood for success in basic recruit training and the State Officer Certification Examination. Officer Duenas passed the FBAT on his fourth try passing with a 72% score. The minimum passing score is 71%.

Officer Duenas has similar issues to Officer Barajona. Officer Duenas was also transferred to training for three weeks for support and to succeed. Officer Duenas also was placed with different FTOs and was given the same chances to succeed as Officer Barajona. Unfortunately, Officer Duenas does not meet the minimum standards so safely work the streets. He is also expected to be released to the street two man.  To give you an example of the serious concerns we have with Officer Duenas, we will show you an incident:

On May 9th, Officer Duenas was working the front desk at our police headquarters. A man walks into the station with a closed briefcase which beeps at the magnetometer. The machine beeps detecting possible weapons.  The man explains to Officer Duenas that inside his briefcase he has several guns in which he wants to turn in. Without hesitation, Officer Duenas issues the man a visitor's pass and directs him to the elevators to turn in the weapons to our property unit (which is mostly staffed with unarmed civilians).  The man then walks to the elevator ( this elevator gives you full access to our police department (especially on the first three floors with no keycard needed) and through the police headquarters freely and unmonitored with a loaded assault weapon and two pistols.  When the man finally makes it to the property unit, he turns in a TEC-9 (the same type of firearm used in the Columbine High School massacre) assault weapon with two thirty round magazines, one 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun, and one derringer pistol.  Due to Officer Duenas's actions, MPD headquarters had an armed civilian freely roaming our station in areas that are deem to be secure. A police report was made using the police station address on that same day.

 

While working on his eighth month of field training  (ordered by A/C Brown to get this police officer on the street no matter what against the recommendations  by Major McQueen and FTC Yavneh to terminate him ) under a new FTO, Officer Duenas had another incident involving the carelessness of securing  firearm. On June 17th, a police officer had gotten into a foot chase with a subject. A loaded gun was removed from the subject (Case#130617-171713, location 6327 Northwest 13th Court). Officer Duenas was instructed to secure the firearm. Officer Duenas placed the loaded firearm in an envelope without making it safe. His actions could have caused an accidental discharge which could have seriously injured the public or another police officer.

These two incidents show deliberate indifference by the Miami Police Department. Liability may be imposed on a municipality upon a showing of deliberate indifference exhibited by a pattern of inadequate training, supervision, and discipline of police officers provided that there is a causal connection between such inadequacies and the risk of harm to others. Again, these are just two examples in the eight months this officer has been under review.


The Miami Police Department will sacrifice the quality of their police force in order to achieve the staffing numbers our elected officials demand. Our elected officials don't understand that until we have educated and experienced leaders running our department, adequate pay and benefits comparable to other agencies in South Florida and proper training, we will continue to have corruption at the highest levels and continue to accept police candidates that barely have the minimum qualifications to be police officers. When it comes to police officers being hired, we should have the highest standards. If our elected officials value their residents, they would only want the best and the brightest hired. A police officer has the authority like no other. He/she can take your freedoms away at a moment's notice. They can also take your life.

We ask the USDOJ and our Commission to seriously look at the issues within our department from pay cuts for four years, inadequate training and no room for promotion. There has not been a lieutenants examination since 2004 or a Captain's examination since 2001. Staff appointments are made based on race and ties within the community. Training, education and experience are not taken into account and frowned upon. If you have a voice and express it, you'll be transferred. Just ask Major McQueen and FTC Yavneh.


As an example, the North Station brass which is made up of four commanders are all African American and have a civil service rank not higher than Sergeant. Only one commander who is Hispanic holds the civil service rank of lieutenant.  The Major of that district is also African American and holds a civil service position of Sergeant. The majority of his experience comes from working in the property unit and is known as the Major that purchased a stolen Lexus. The lack of leadership shows when our police officers aren't adequately trained and there is no plan to halt the senseless shootings in the north end.


If we keep recruiting subpar candidates, retain subpar police officers, have poor leadership and continue to be poorly paid, we are headed to another Miami River Cops scandal.



Thank you,


A concerned and fed up employee


If you are interested in finding out more information, you must ask for the following documents via a public records request:

·        The daily FTO observation sheets for the past eight months of Officer Duenas and Officer Barajona.

·        The 13 page executive summary from FTC Yavneh addressed to Chief Orosa explaining everything in detail.

·        The police report of the man armed with an assault rifle walking through the station endangering the public and police employees (5/9/13).

·        The gun placed in the envelope and not made safe by Officer Duenas (Case#130617-171713, location 6327 Northwest 13th Court).

·        The 6 page executive summary (either has a 7/16 or 7/17 date on it) evaluating Officer Barajona and Officer Duenas per A/C Brown in which FTC Yavneh again recommends termination with the support of Major Craig McQueen. 

-        By order of the commission at a public hearing, have the Chief of Police, A/C Brown, Major McQueen and FTC Yavneh attend to verify this information.