Nearly three years ago on May 28, 2011, Random Pixels published a column entitled, Sweetwater…still dirty after all these years. He followed that up on December 8, 2011 with Sweetwater…still dirty after all these years (Part 2). In both blogs he recounted the town’s long history of corruption since its inception, and especially within its police department.
In his second column, Random Pixels cited an article published in the Sarasota Herald Tribune by reporters Matthew Doig and Anthony Cormier from their series about “Florida police officers who keep their badges despite repeated instances of misconduct, and in many cases, criminal acts.” He quoted excerpts from the article, including:
“A Herald-Tribune computer analysis of the FDLE’s misconduct cases and employee data supported the idea that the state’s smaller agencies are a dumping ground for problem officers.”
“Four police departments in Miami-Dade County — Biscayne Park, Sweetwater, Opa-Locka and Hialeah Gardens — have, on average, 20.7 percent of their officers with a state misconduct case. Meanwhile the number is only 4.9 percent at the Miami-Dade Police Department.”
“Of the 19 Sweetwater police officers sent to the commission for misconduct, 12 were hired after incidents at other agencies, including six from the nearby Miami-Dade County or City of Miami police departments.”
Some things obviously have not changed.
Published yesterday in the Miami Herald is an article, Sweetwater detective found guilty of credit card fraud. which relates the sordid tale of one William Garcia, who was convicted on twelve counts of “fraudulently using one or more credit cards; conspiracy to commit fraud with false credit cards and 10 counts of identity theft — using credit cards belonging to other people.”
The Herald also reported about Detective Garcia:
“He had been a Sweetwater police officer for 18 years and also worked on a special federal Drug Enforcement Administration team.
His arrest came a few weeks after federal authorities arrested then-Sweetwater Mayor Manuel “Manny” Maroño in a separate case of public corruption. Both arrests unleashed a series of scandals in the small city west of Miami-Dade.”
Sweetwater is one of several South Florida cities that’s had its share of “problem officers.” Opa-locka might be the department that gets the most attention because, as Random Pixels most notably pointed out in Welcome to Opa-locka, where the line between the criminals and cops is sometimes blurred … well, the title speaks for itself. He’s also posted numerous columns about Miami Beach cops who have been under fire for issues of inappropriate behavior ranging from being “celebrity suck-ups,” to charges of excessive force to police brutality. But even the smaller towns, such as Golden Beach and Biscayne Park, are not immune to police problems.
With all the bad press about the various police departments in Miami-Dade County, we here in North Miami Beach can breathe a huge sigh of relief that, despite the problems our PD has faced in recent years – including budget cuts, layoffs, the loss of veteran cops and specialty units – our officers have managed to stay out of trouble.
Obviously, in South Florida that’s no mean feat.
But most importantly, through it all our officers have continued to prove that they are dedicated professionals who take their jobs very seriously and who make our public safety their number one priority. With all the bad press about “problem officers” in South Florida, I hope the residents, and especially the folks at City Hall, appreciate how fortunate we truly are.
We could have been Sweetwater.
“Spreading the Wealth”