Memo to Chief Leonard Burgess:
I realize that I’m not one of your favorite people. I know I’ve been a thorn in your side. It’s probably driving you nuts that you can’t stifle me. You can’t sweet talk me. You can’t do a damn thing to stop me.
You probably wish you could make me disappear forever.
I hate to break it to you, but I’m not going away any time soon. Deal with it.
Oh, and Chief Burgess. What you think of me is none of my business.
While the North Miami Police Chief can’t do a damn thing about me, it’s really despicable how he abuses his power over those whose lives he can make miserable.
When he worked for the Miami-Dade Police Department, for example, a female Major complained to Burgess’ boss about his inappropriate sexual advances toward her.
Burgess retaliated by transferring her out of the Economic Crimes Bureau.
It seems he’s repeating the exact same pattern of behavior by punishing anyone in the department that he suspects is aiding and abetting the blogger. Because he can’t control me, he’s lashing out at anyone he believes may be “leaking” information to me, as well as to other media outlets.
That’s freaking childish if you ask me.
Not to mention disturbing.
I first landed on the Chief’s hit list by suggesting he was complicit in former mayoral candidate Kevin Burns’ ability to drive around town with an illegal city issued temporary license tag on his Little Red Campaign Fire Truck. It was common knowledge that Burgess and his cronies in the department supported Burns during the campaign, but he sure wasn’t happy that I pointed it out. Burgess has been annoyed with me ever since.
When I posted a blog about radio host Rotchill Anderson’s criticism of the Chief for keeping a “bad cop” on the department, Burgess was not a happy camper.
When I asked for public records about North Miami Police Officer Jodlyn Antoine, and posted a story about this cop’s most recent Internal Affairs investigation, followed by another blog about the slap-on-the-wrist disciplinary action he received, Burgess went into mad crazy spin control mode by enlisting someone – anyone – who he hoped could shut me up.
When I requested additional public records about Officer Antoine, Chief Burgess played semantics by choosing to “misinterpret” which documents I was requesting, and withheld several of them from me for over a week.
When I finally did receive the records I asked for, and then exposed Officer Antoine as a serial harasser, sources inside City Hall told me that Chief Burgess started looking for The Mole in his department.
Then, thanks to some posts on two online police forums from 2008, I inadvertently discovered a formal complaint of sexual harassment previously filed with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement against Chief Burgess by a female subordinate. I blogged it. Chief Burgess lost his cool.
By that time, if he still harbored any illusions, however tenuous, that he could silence me, they were shattered once he realized there is absolutely no way to stop cops from anonymously posting comments on sites like LeoAffairs.
Trust me, bigger men have tried!
But the final straw had to be when I caught Chief Burgess in a lie. In a public email, he claimed that he “was not involved in this SH incident,” when in fact, sexual harassment is exactly what he was accused of doing.
That’s when it all hit the fan.
Chief Leonard Burgess started scrambling for solutions to his blogger problem.
Believing that The Mole was in his Public Information Office, sources told me that Burgess thought he could solve the problem by getting rid of the PIO. So he removed the department’s professionally trained and highly respected spokesman, Major Neal Cuevas, from his post.
Ironically dumping the one person most qualified to help the Chief fend off attacks from the very media he was desperately trying to avoid.
Local media peeps are still scratching their heads over that bonehead move.
Team Irony also burst out in uncontrollable laughter. Sides are still aching.
Burgess then replaced Major Cuevas with Internal Affairs Sergeant Rafael Estrugo as the Public Information Officer.
When that move didn’t solve his blogger problem, Burgess was beside himself.
When I subsequently poked fun at the Chief’s Fuzzy Crime Stat Math in the wake of yet another North Miami shooting, Burgess went ballistic.
Last Friday, the Chief removed Sergeant Estrugo from BOTH the Public Information Office AND Internal Affairs!
Curiously, Burgess assigned the recently hired Officer Natalie Buisserith as the department’s official Public Information Officer.
Officer Buisserith’s previous gig was the PIO of the Town of Medley, Florida, a 4.3 square mile outpost located in western Miami-Dade County, populated by 838 brave souls. It’s Motto is “The perfect place for industrial development.” Medley’s crime stats are so infinitesimal, the Town isn’t even listed in the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics website.
Why the Medley Police Department even needs a Public Information Officer remains one of life’s greatest mysteries.
But I’m sure Officer Buisserith is totally qualified to handle the Police Department’s Public Information Office of the sixth largest city in Miami-Dade County, with a population seventy two times larger than Medley, and one of the highest crime rates in the county.
This scenario works out just fine for Chief Burgess, who now has a better chance of controlling the narrative with an inexperienced officer as PIO than he could by having either one of two highly decorated veterans (with a combined total of fifty six years of law enforcement experience) work with the media.
That makes perfect sense … if you’re Lenny Burgess.
By removing Sergeant Estrugo from Internal Affairs, whose investigations were performed professionally, thoroughly, and with razor sharp precision, it appears that Chief Burgess would also like to “dumb down” the IA department as well.
Might it be for self-serving purposes? You know. In case someone else files an “SH” complaint against him?
North Miami Police Chief Burgess is obviously stopping at nothing in his attempts to silence the media, including playing musical chairs with his staff under the guise of “reorganization.”
He also hasn’t quite given up on recruiting people from inside City Hall to schmooze me or from outside City Hall to post negative comments on my blogs.
Neither tactic will work.
If Chief Burgess thinks he’s seen and heard the last of me, he’s sadly mistaken.
If he thinks I’m a pain in the ass, I can live with that.
Been there, done that, bought the tee shirt.
“Spreading the Wealth”