Miami-Dade Police Officers Caught on Camera Allegedly Ignoring Emergency Calls

Two officers and a sergeant have been fired by the Miami-Dade Police Department, according to an internal affairs report

By Myriam Masihy
|  Tuesday, Feb 5, 2013  |  Updated 10:16 PM EDT
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Five Miami-Dade Police officers and one sergeant with the Kendall squad were disciplined following a 2010 internal affairs investigation, police documents showed. Miami-Dade Police said it is not commenting on the investigation.

Five Miami-Dade Police officers and one sergeant with the Kendall squad were disciplined following a 2010 internal affairs investigation, police documents showed. Miami-Dade Police said it is not commenting on the investigation.

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Police Director Speaks About Internal Affairs Investigation of Officers

Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson commented Tuesday on the internal affairs investigation of officers who were allegedly caught on camera ignoring emergency dispatch calls. He said the department dealt with it and meted out discipline. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez also addressed the matter. Sgt. Jennifer Gonzalez’s attorney, Teri Guttman Valdes, said they are trying to get Gonzalez's job back in arbitration.

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A group of Miami-Dade police officers was disciplined following a 2010 internal affairs investigation, police documents showed.

Five police officers and one sergeant with the Kendall squad were allegedly caught on camera ignoring emergency dispatch calls. The video, obtained by NBC 6 South Florida, shows incidents like one on Oct. 5, 2010 where Officer Dario Socarras apparently ignored a residential burglary call and chose to meet a woman at the Dadeland Mall parking lot. The video shows the officer hugging and kissing the woman in what the police investigation calls a public display of affection.

That is classified as departmental misconduct or conduct unbecoming of an officer, according to police.

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A little later that day, Officer Socarras, Officer Jose Huerta and their Sergeant Jennifer Gonzalez were videotaped drinking coffee at a Casa Larios when an emergency call came in with an alert about an unconscious 5-month-old, police said in investigation records obtained by NBC 6.

Socarras was dispatched to the scene and despite being with his sergeant, he continued drinking his coffee. Nine minutes later he was cleared from the call, according to police.

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Moments later the dispatcher asked Socarras to check out a signal 37, or a suspicious vehicle. He said in a radio transmission that he was en route, but investigators said it took him 25 minutes to respond.

At the end of the investigation Sgt. Gonzalez and officers Dario Socarras, Jose Huerta, Ivan Tomas, Fabian Owens and Jeffrey Price all received a relief of duty memorandum dated Dec. 28, 2010.

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Officer Socarras, who was also accused of doctoring reports to reflect that he had responded to the calls, wrote a memo to his lieutenant saying that at no time did he intentionally violate departmental rules or regulations.

Socarras, Huerta and Gonzalez have been fired by the Miami-Dade Police Department, according to the internal affairs report. Gonzalez’s attorney, Teri Guttman Valdes, said they are trying to get the sergeant’s job back in arbitration.

Several more officers have been disciplined and some are expected to appeal their punishment.

The Dade County Police Benevolent Association said it is waiting for the disciplinary process to conclude before it comments.

The Miami-Dade Police Department's new director, J.D. Patterson, commented Tuesday on the investigation, which predates his tenure as the department's leader. He said that he was one of many people in the department "offended that there are members of our agency that did not serve.”

"But the reality is our department dealt with it, investigated it, meted out discipline to those who were terminated, and those who still remain, they also were disciplined," Patterson said.

Miami-Dade resident Jeff Bretzer said he is upset that some officers are not upholding their duty to protect and serve.

"If I have a reason to call the police and they're not that responsive or if they weren't in a timely fashion, it just wouldn't be much use," he said.

But Bretzer said he is pleased the Miami-Dade Police Department looked into officers' responsiveness.

"You want to think that they are going to be doing something to correct the problem that is going on," he said.

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