Miami City Manager Johnny Martinez suspended Police Chief Miguel Exposito this week for failing to obey orders and taking “other actions that indicate just and reasonable cause to demonstrate that you cannot properly perform your duties as chief of police,” according to the suspension letter. The city commission has five days to meet and determine if there is cause for Exposito’s removal, though Exposito is already planning on challenging the suspension.
Exposito has worked for the city for 37 years, being named as chief in November 2009. In the less than two years that he’s been running the Department, however, his leadership has been continually questioned.
While under his leadership, the city has seen a significant number of police killings of black men, particularly in the Overtown area. In August 2010 alone, three men, a 21-year old, a 19-year old, and a 16-year old, were all shot and killed by police. The month before, another black male was shot and killed by police who said he reached for something in his car during a midday traffic stop; no weapon was found.
January 2011 was another busy month for the Chief as he continued to accuse Mayor Regaldo of meddling in a case concerning illegal gambling machines, announcing that he had turned over information to federal law enforcement about the Mayor. Also in January, City Manager Tony Crapp Jr. hired a former FBI agent to review the policies and practices of the department; Exposito was the subject of a commission meeting where Commissioner Richard P. Dunn tried to get the chief fired; and another black man was shot and killed by police in Overtown.
Exposito was scheduled to retire in January 2012, though he had vowed not to leave. The city had been looking for a replacement since his retirement was announced, and the search will continue now that he may be leaving before then.
In Martinez’s letter of suspension, two particular reasons were mentioned for the suspension. First, that Exposito failed to follow an order to not demote three officers, stripping them of their responsibilities anyways. He is also accused of ignoring repeated requests to get overtime expenses under control, expenses that are currently $1.8 million over budget.
Exposito is under a gag order about the suspension at this time. At the Commission meeting that will happen within coming days, the Commission can determine whether or not Exposito’s removal is warranted. If they determine it isn’t or if Exposito fights the removal (which he is expected to do), the change will not likely go smoothly.
When there is a shakeup in the administration of a police department, it can be felt through the ranks. Miami police have been no stranger to controversy in the past year and the citizens of the city aren’t exactly feeling confident in them as a result.