Miami's city manager has suspended police Chief Art Acevedo six months into his tenure, with the intent to terminate his employment.
"The relationship between the Chief and the organization has become untenable and needed to be resolved promptly. In particular, the relationship between the Chief and the Police Department he leads - as well as with the community - has deteriorated beyond repair," City Manager Art Noriega said in a statement Monday evening. "Relationships between employers and employees come down to fit and leadership style and unfortunately, Chief Acevedo is not the right fit for this organization."
ART ACEVEDO VS. COMMISSIONERS
"It is now time to move forward with the search for new leadership at MPD," Noriega continued, adding that Assistant Police Chief Manny Morales will be appointed as interim chief as the city searches for Acevedo's replacement.
"As this matter remains a personnel matter between employee and employer, I will have no further comment at this time."
Noriega sent a letter to the chief notifying him of the suspension, citing several reasons for the decision, including that the chief offended the community by making a comment that Miami was "run by the Cuban mafia."
A hearing will be held before the city commission as part of the process to remove Acevedo. Three out of five commission votes are needed to uphold the suspension and termination.
Sources told NBC 6 earlier Monday that Noriega was working to negotiate a leadership change for the city's police department.
One source said Acevedo was being offered the choice between suspension and resignation with a severance package. Details of the arrangement could be released as early as Tuesday, when a news conference was expected to be held.
In an email titled "Farewell" sent to all Miami Police Department employees on Monday evening, Acevedo thanks his staff for their service, urging them to "keep driving forward and to keep the people of Miami the best service as possible."
“I promise to continue to fight the good fight to rid MPD of the political interference from city hall that unfortunately continues to negatively impact this organization," the email said in part. A source close to the situation sent NBC 6 the internal email.
Acevedo, 57, has been embroiled in a feud with city commissioners in recent weeks after Acevedo accused some of meddling in the department.
The commissioners called a meeting last month to attack Acevedo and his leadership, ultimately voting to appoint themselves to an investigative committee with subpoena power to examine his appointment.
Acevedo had sent an eight-page memo to the mayor and city manager, accusing several commissioners of hampering his reform mandate by eliminating positions and interfering with internal affairs investigations. The commissioners said his allegations also would also be investigated by the committee.
Acevedo came to Miami after serving more than four years as police chief in Houston, where he gained national prominence by calling for gun control, marching with protesters after George Floyd’s death and criticizing former President Donald Trump. He vowed to reform the department, acknowledging communities of color are disproportionately impacted by bad policing.
But he was soon criticized after firing two high-level police officials and relieving of duty a sergeant-at-arms. The Miami police union said that an internal survey showed many officers were not confident with his leadership and wanted Acevedo’s ouster or resignation.
Acevedo, who is Cuban but grew up in California, also angered Cuban exiles last month when reports emerged that he talked to officers about a "Cuban mafia" that runs the city. He later apologized, saying he didn’t know that was a term former Cuban leader Fidel Castro used to refer to exiles. Three of the five city commissioners are Cuban American.
At the special meeting last month, Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo spent hours reading from a document that outlined instances where Acevedo was allegedly reprimanded in the past. He also questioned whether City Manager Art Noriega knew whether Acevedo had political aspirations.
Last week, Acevedo turned in his action plan for moving the department forward, a document required by Noriega, who is the only person who has the authority to fire the chief.
Acevedo signed on to be chief in March with a $315,000 annual salary. His benefits move the total compensation package to over $400,000.
If a departure deal is in the works, the agreement says that if he’s terminated by what's called "for cause," which could include a finding of misconduct, neglect of duty or malfeasance, then he would not get any severance pay. The same goes if he resigns.
If he is terminated "without cause," per his contract, he would get money equal to five months salary and benefits.
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