Art Acevedo

Miami Police Chief Responds to Backlash Over Controversial Comments

At an officer roll call meeting last month, Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo said, “Miami is run by the Cuban mafia.”  

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Miami’s Police Chief is taking some heat for his choice of words: “Cuban Mafia.” 

“He is constantly putting his foot in his mouth,” said Fraternal Order of Police President Tommy Reyes.

Reyes posted a statement on Twitter talking about how at an officer roll call meeting last month, Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo said, “Miami is run by the Cuban mafia.”  

The post went on to read in part, ”What does he mean by this? The mafia is not a good thing, the mafia is a criminal enterprise.” 

In an interview on Wednesday, Reyes said maybe the chief was making a joke. 

“I don’t think it was appropriate, I think it was offensive,” said Reyes. “If he talked about the Black mafia or the Haitian mafia or the Jewish mafia, I’m sure it would have been a little more offensive to more people.”

The Chief’s position is that his comment was harmless humor.

“I think that the point that was being made had nothing to do with talking about the city being run by some mafia — that’s a bunch of hogwash being used for their political objectives, which is to attack a police chief that's holding them accountable,” Acevedo said, adding there was a lot of laughter in the room.

In a statement Thursday, Acevedo apologized for the comment.

A personnel matter is also striking a nerve with some in the department.

The Chief hired Heather Morris as the Deputy Police Chief, the first woman to hold the post, which is second in command. Acevedo brought her in from the Houston Police Department, where Acevedo was chief before coming to Miami.

Reyes’s announcement on Twitter also spoke of a so-called "friends and family" culture within the department.

“He says, ‘I am going to fight the friends and family plan and we’re not gonna do that, and we are going to hire people for their merits,’” said Reyes. “And then he brought in a friend.” 

Acevedo pushed back hard. 

“The characterization of our Deputy Chief being a personal friend is absolutely false. The first time I’ve been out to dinner with the Deputy Chief is here in Miami upon her arrival,” said Acevedo.

“I think that Reyes needs to start doing his homework, he’s a Sergeant in this department and he can’t just be making stuff up, which it seems he is very good at,” he added.

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