Two officers with the Miami Police Department are one step closer to whistleblower protection after coming forward with allegations of activities of corruption against Chief Manuel Morales.
During a hearing Tuesday, the city had no objection to the request to start the process for whistle blowers protection for Commander Brandon Lanier and Detective Wanda Jean-Baptiste.
The hearing is based on two letters submitted by them saying Morales was trying to control the outcome of internal affairs investigations.
It's the first step to get the federal protection under the Whistleblowers Act.
“I think it’s a matter of making sure that other members of the police department that work and serve and protect the citizens of Miami don’t have to undergo the same actions and harm that they are going under for just doing their job,” said Griska Mena, and attorney for the South Florida Police Benevolent Association.
The next hearing is scheduled for January 24th. NBC 6 reached out to Morales and Miami's city manager, Arthur Noriega, but have not heard back.
Previously in an exclusive interview with NBC 6, Morales denied those allegations against him and Noriega previously voiced support for the chief.
The two internal affairs employees want outside agencies to investigate to see if a crime has been committed after alleging that they aren't being allowed to independently do their work.
Morales said a priority for him when he took over was healing from turmoil during predecessor Art Acevedo’s tenure at the department.
"It has been an uphill battle to bring everybody on board. We have made some incredible progress not only combatting firearm violence but also returning the morale," Morales said earlier in June.
Acevedo was fired in October 2021 after just six months on the job and numerous clashes with city officials.
Lanier said "…Morales has used his position to open investigations to target employees and influence the outcome of investigations." Jean-Baptiste wrote that "staff is not expected to follow rules or standard operating procedures. The corruption is growing from within."
Morales said the allegations have zero merit.
"When the truth comes out as a result of any investigation that might be deemed to be conducted into these allegations, and the facts are all out there, I will be cleared and the agency more importantly," Morales said.
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