Miami

High Hopes for Miami Police Chief 7 Months Ago Took a Quick Turn

The city's elected officials' romance with Art Acevedo didn't last long

NBC Universal, Inc.

It all looked and sounded fantastic in March when Miami Mayor Francis Suarez made a surprise announcement that the city was hiring Art Acevedo to be the new chief of police.

"Our residents can sleep very well tonight knowing that our manager with the help of the commission, and my intervention, brought to Miami the best chief in America," Suarez said.

The man for the job, Acevedo, was Houston’s Police Chief at the time, a media friendly cop with a reputation of reaching out to communities who don’t think they get a fair shake many times from officers.

"The good cops deserve bad cops to be shown the door," Acevedo said when he was hired.

Three weeks later, Acevedo was in tears when remembering how he came to Miami as a young boy when his family left Cuba, and now he was back running the police department.

"Every time you go on one of these scenes you leave a little bit of your heart,” Acevedo said in an interview with NBC 6, when speaking of the tragic circumstances that involve the risk officers take daily, and the pain crime can cause.

But the romance didn’t last long, particularly after some recent incidents involving officers.

In one of those incidents, survelliance video showing a portion of a crash involving former police supervisor Nerly Papier and her husband, who was the deputy chief, resulted in their termination. Chief Acevedo alleged the couple didn’t handle properly the aftermath of the accident she had in her police SUV.

The controversy surrounding city of Miami police chiefs is not only limited to Chief Art Acevedo. NBC 6's Laura Rodriguez looks back at some embattled top cops in the city.

Another fallout from the Papier’s firing happened when the chief angered minority and female officers by demoting Keandra Simmons, who had given testimony about the Papiers, and was the top ranking African American woman in the department.

Simmons, who saw her rank go from major to lieutenant with a significant pay cut, said she didn’t think there was any reason for the new chief to remove her from the duties she had.

"I'm going to always tell the truth," Simmons said. "It"s in vain and it was done with no justification and no cause behind it."

While Acevedo was saying rank and file officers and some politicians didn’t want changes that would improve policing, in September the trouble now boiling behind the scenes came to the forefront.

The NBC 6 Investigators were the first to discover that Acevedo himself was going to be the subject on an investigation conducted by the city's Citizens Investigative Panel.

An anonymous complaint came late September saying the Chief had damaged his own black SUV and didn’t report it in a timely manner. The head of the police union, Tommy Reyes, said it was ironic he fired the Papiers, claiming the same thing.

Reyes said he surveyed his members.

"The members have made it pretty clear. The morale sucks right now. They are not happy. Cops don’t want to come to work. They are afraid to do their job and I did an internal survey and the survey was actually pretty shocking for me. The numbers were pretty high," Reyes said. "I don’t think the members want to work for Art Acevedo anymore."

That incident catapulted the situation to where Miami's City Manager was being asked about Acevedo and his performance, and some City Commissioners who were angry they weren’t in on hiring him in the first place were asking what's going on.

Contact Us