Birds of a feather?

Birds of a featherThe City of Miami Gardens just can’t get a break.

First, Police Chief Stephen Johnson got himself arrested in a prostitution sting on Friday night.  He was promptly fired.

Yesterday, Channel 10 reported that Assistant Chief Antonio Brooklen, who was appointed as Interim Chief, was accused of sexual harassment in 2012.

If that weren’t scandalous enough, Miami Gardens City Manager Cameron Benson, the man who appointed Brooklen, was also accused of sexual harassment in 2011.

In the article, Secret sexual harassment complaints resurface in Miami Gardens after chief’s sex-for-hire arrest, Channel 10 reporter Andrea Torres wrote:

Benson also knows how it feels to have to walk out of a job with shame amid a scandal. In June 2011, he resigned from his $205,000 a year post as Hollywood city manager amid a long list of accusations.

They included bungling the city’s finances, sexual harassment and having police deliver a generator to his parents in Lauderhill.

The FBI, the Broward County state attorney’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated him, as he left with a severance package of nearly $300,000. There was insufficient evidence, and Benson was cleared of all wrongdoing.

Adding insult to injury, Ms. Torres also noted that the Interim Chief, the City Manager and the Mayor, Oliver G. Gilbert III, are fraternity brothers* who have all “faced sexual harassment accusations during their careers.”

[*In a late update, the article noted: “CORRECTION: An original version of this story reported Monday that Benson was a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, but the organization’s national finance manager John Howard said Tuesday that he is not registered as a member.”]

That’s a whole lot of scandal for a city only thirteen years old.

Although those allegations surfaced years ago, even old news is still relevant.  When public officials do something scandalous, it usually comes back to haunt them when they least expect it.

Thanks to cable television and the internet, we now live in a 24-hour news cycle.  Anyone with a computer, laptop, tablet or cell phone has access to news stories around the planet at the push of a button.  The flow of information truly is unstoppable!  News junkies can feed their habits, around the clock, from anywhere they sit.

Note: This item is really available at Bed, Bath & Beyond!

Note: This item is really available at Bed, Bath & Beyond!

Literally!

Other excellent sources of information are online police department forums, such as my personal favorite, LeoAffairs.  Some of my best exposés  started with information gleaned From the LeoAffairs Mailbag.

Thanks to a reader of my previous post, I have now also discovered a blog called Truth in Policing in Miami-Dade, written by an individual who calls himself Sheriff2B, a “Veteran police supervisor with MDPD.”

As you might imagine, I tend to have a bit more respect for fellow bloggers than I do for many news reporters.  Bloggers make it their business to dig up dirt that was intended to remain buried.  Most bloggers, or citizen journalists, also don’t have the mixed blessing of editors or sponsors, who might try to stifle the flow of information for political or monetary reasons.

We’re also pretty damn good at sniffing out stuff that public officials don’t want you to know.

what-i-do-before-bedA post on the Truth in Policing blog from September 3, 2008 got my attention:

LVQT said…

Is it true the Chief Lenny Burgess is part of the complaint made by “Major” Carmen Pichardo for sexual harassment? It’s not just Major Don Rifkin,is it? Are they relieved of duty?

Hmmm…  I wondered what that’s all about.

Interestingly, the following year someone posted a similar comment on the City of Miami Police Department’s page on LeoAffairs:

06-25-2009, 09:58 AM

Hey Chavez, it appears that Chief Burgess suffers the same malady as a certain Asst. Chief in our department. He is being investigated and sued for sexually harassing a female major on their department (Pichardo).

Yeah, I think he fits right in with our department.

Of course, I immediately made yet another public records request from the Miami-Dade Police Department.

And, well, what do you know?  Turns out there IS  an Internal Affairs file on Leonard Burgess.

So, of course, I ordered up a copy.

Yes, when I get it, I’ll keep you posted on what hopefully will be sordid details.  It should be fun.

It's beginning to look a lotWhat I find most interesting, however, is that the three Internal Affairs investigations of North Miami Police Officer Jodlyn Antoine all stemmed from complaints made by women claiming to have been harassed by him.  Two of them also involved his illegal use of the police database to obtain their private information.

Internal Affairs Investigation Case No. 2011-04 resulted in the disposition panel’s determination that the allegations against Officer Antoine were SUSTAINED.  For illegally accessing the police database for “queries not related to a legitimate business purpose,” Officer Jodlyn Antoine received a Written Reprimand.

Interestingly, other law enforcement officers around Florida have lost their jobs for doing the exact same thing.  Yet, Antoine got slapped on the wrist and was told, in essence, nothing to see here, move right along.

The second time Officer Antoine repeated his misbehavior, instead of the termination that his chain of command recommended, Police Chief Leonard Burgess doled out some bullshit suspension that, in essence, amounted to a slightly harder slap on the wrist.

This time around, Antoine got to relax at home for more than eight months, courtesy of North Miami taxpayers.  Upon his return from that vacation, he was suspended without pay for 200 hours, which was served one week on, one week off for two months.

As of February 14, 2015, he was back in action.

On the road againAs for Antoine’s Internal Affairs Investigation Case No. 2012-02, regarding a woman’s complaint of harassment, the disposition panel determined that the allegations were unfounded.  However, I interviewed a member of that disposition panel, who said, “We knew Antoine had a history of harassing women, but in this particular case, there simply wasn’t sufficient evidence to find the allegations sustainable.  The witnesses also did not provide enough evidence for us to determine sufficiency.  And since we had to review complaints on a case by case basis, in this instance we had to determine that the allegations were unfounded.”

Apparently, Officer Jodlyn is a problem child.  Aside from the three Internal Affairs investigations, I’m aware that he’s been disciplined for various other infractions of the rules.

And, yes, in case you’re wondering, a public records request was already made.

Which leads us back to the original question:  Why is North Miami Police Chief Leonard Burgess protecting this obvious “bad apple?”

As Channel 10 reporter Andrea Torres discovered, the “fraternity brothers” of Miami Gardens all have a history of problems in dealing with the fairer sex.

If you believe the comments made on the online police department forums … and I do … it would certainly appear that Chief Burgess might be eligible for membership in that “fraternity,” too.

Based on the complaints filed by women which led to his three Internal Affairs investigations, we already know that Officer Jodlyn Antoine has a tendency to upset the ladies, as well.

Because birds of a feather and all…

JackpotJust saying.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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19 Comments

  1. Lets be all we can be says:

    Like I said on last blog post, let’s get leaders/Chiefs who respect (and don’t harass) women so that they can lead by example and we can all feel like issues concerning women and girls such as sexual assaults in our cities are treated with concern and pro-active policing.

    We have GREAT officers, but they need a leader who leads by example and sets A CULTURE OF RESPECT AND CONCERN (caps for emphasis) (which includes terminating or demoting problem officers as per official recommendations.)

    How can someone/a leader/a Chief who does not inherently respect women give 100 percent to caring about domestic abuse or worse?

    And how will a leader/Chief believe complaints from women are “legitimate” when maybe they think women are there for the objectifying? My two cents, what do I know, except I can’t believe that respect trickles down a department from leaders who don’t respect women.

    And I would love to hear from female officers if they would contribute to this blog about what goes on as a woman in the ranks. Here’s to being all we can be!

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  2. Retired MDPD Gold Badge says:

    I recently posted on another topic. The post is down below for all to read. Now you all know why I warned the ladies to be careful with Lenny Burgess. Again, I worked with him for many years and knew his ways. I knew too much. Therefore, I wasn’t very fond of him, especially with his leadership and women issues. Some knew, but were too intimidated by his political connections to see past the issues, in an attempt to respect his rank. Others, who respected law enforcement, especially women in law enforcement, despised him. Knowing him, he’ll probably use all of those connections to make phone calls and write letters on his behalf in an attempt to save himself during this controversy. I knew his past with women would eventually be uncovered, especially by Stephanie Kienzle, who has, so far, impressed me with her blogs, writing and investigative skills. Keep it up the good work. North Miami depends on you. His shady past will be revealed. It’s only a matter of time. I’m surprised he’s still a Chief. I can’t say he’s still misbehaving with women. I’m sure he’s learned his lessons. But I’m not surprised he’s protecting a police officer who has a very similar past to his own. Except it’s easier at the MDPD to hide it. Especially when you’ve got connections and protection. I’m sure Lenny Burgess sees himself in that officer in question. That’s why he insisted in protecting him. Again, good luck. Hopefully the City’s Manager in North Miami takes action before he’s the one being looked at for Negligent Retention.

    This is a message to the City Manager: I’ve read enough about you to surmise that although you have very little experience as a City Manager, you’re a man of character and integrity. Don’t be fooled by Lenny Burgess. Choose a Chief who will connect with your diverse community in positive ways and put this controversy behind you. You’ll feel much better when you do. Your community and police department will thank you. You have many years to go as City Manager and I’d hate to see Lenny Burgess jeopardize your future to save his own. Those are my two cents. Good Luck.

    Below is my original comment.

    Retired MDPD Gold Badge February 26, 2015 9:48 am Reply

    I am a retired Miami-Dade PD Lieutenant, where Lenny Burgess also retired from. Another MDPD employee brought this blog to my attention, and I wasn’t surprised to learn about the controversy. When most of us who knew him found out that he was appointed as Chief in North Miami, we knew it was the beginning of the end for the police department. I worked with Lenny Burgess for many years. He was protected and mentored by some of the most powerful in Miami-Dade, mostly because of his affiliations in common with those same heavy hitters in outside professional organizations. He never supervised anyone in any one unit or stayed in any one place long enough to gain any real executive leadership experience. Before his flaws could be exposed, he was moved again somewhere else, collecting titles, ranks, and certificates along the way. He never mastered anything in his career, other than politicking. I’d be willing to bet he’s close with whoever is the head of the most popular or most powerful clique in North Miami PD. He’s a facade at best. He hasn’t been fired because he’s probably in with the City Manager or a Commisioner. Lenny Burgess is after all a politician incognito. Those who know him, will know that he will avoid having conversations about topics he should know about. And if the conversations can’t be avoided, he will talk in circles to death, without any real substance, until you’re left asking yourself, “what did he just say”. For those concerned about the corrupt police officer in question, I read all the documents posted. The investigation and recommendations by the panels for discipline were very well written and thorough. The problem is the final decision made by Lenny Burgess and most likely with backing of the City Manager. Lenny Burgess’ inexperience and inability to make tough executive decisions is evident. Any other chief would have fired that officer. This wouldn’t have been tolerated in MDPD. But speaking from experience, the officer won’t be fired at this point. So requesting his termination would be a waste of time. I’d concentrate more in finding another qualified chief to run the North Miami PD instead. To those who say that he’s being shoved down your throats, I’m sure you have Town Hall meetings or other forums in which to bring this up, and Commissioners or other influential people in North Miami you can talk to. Demand for his resignation or termination. Sadly, if that police officer does it again, it won’t be in Lenny Burgess’ hands, he’ll probably be gone by then. It’ll be the next chief who has to answer for Lenny’s poor decisions. I’m glad he never made Director in MDPD. Those of us who saw through the BS, we knew better and hoped for the best. Unfortunately for North Miami, he’s your problem now. And ladies, I’m not sure if he’s changed his ways in the last few years, but just beware of Lenny Burgess. Those are my two cents. Good luck.

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Thanks for the compliment. It’s always been my mission to uncover fraud and corruption, especially in politics. Long time readers should know by now that I am a huge supporter of law enforcement. It certainly brings me no pleasure to go after a police officer, and especially a police chief. However, a police department is only as good as its leadership, and it concerns me to see the reputation of the NMPD being trashed by someone as undeserving as Leonard Burgess. Until he became the chief, I praised the North Miami Police Department for the direction in which it seemed to be headed. I even boldly proclaimed that it was quickly becoming the best municipal PD in the county. Unfortunately, since Burgess was appointed the department has been deteriorating. The best chance of turning that around is if the City Manager gets rid of Burgess and appoints Gary Eugene as the Chief. Eugene has an impeccable – and unblemished – reputation. He’s extremely intelligent and professional, and would make an outstanding leader of the NMPD. IMHO.

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  3. Ellen says:

    The residents of North Miami DESERVE a Chief of Police with a reputation of unquestioned honesty and character. Assistant Chief of Police Gary Eugene, a Haitian American, has been a police officer for over 30 years. “Gary holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Florida International University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies from Barry University, and an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Miami-Dade College. He is also a graduate of the prestigious Southern Police Institute (S.P.I.) in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Senior Management Institute for Police Executives (S.M.I.P.) at Harvard’s Kennedy School.” ttp://www.northmiamipolice.com/about_nmpd/command_staff/eugene_gary.asp
    I urge residents of North Miami to voice their opinions by contacting their council members and the city manager.
    City Manager Aleem Ghany:
    aghany@northmiamifl.gov
    Mayor Smith Joseph:
    sjoseph@northmiamifl.gov
    Councilman Scott Galvin—District 1:
    scott@scott-galvin.com
    Councilwoman Carol Keys—District 2:
    ckeys@northmiamifl.gov
    Councilman Philippe Bien-Aime—District 3:
    Pbien-aime@northmiamifl.gov
    Councilwoman Marie Steril—District 4:
    msteril@northmiamifl.gov

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Thanks for your input, Ellen. I have spoken with Assistant Chief Gary Eugene on several occasions, as well as many folks who know him personally and professionally. I am extremely impressed with him, his vast knowledge of not only law enforcement, but other areas of his expertise. Mr. Eugene is a man of principle and beyond reproach. With Gary Eugene as Police Chief, the NMPD has a chance to become the most respected department in all of south Florida. Who in North Miami wouldn’t want that? This is truly a no-brainer!

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  4. Guest says:

    Nothing has changed he flirts and makes inappropriate comments constantly. This chief is like Steve Urkel who thinks he’s Denzel Washington. Every day you see him kissing or hugging his secretaries, female command staff, women at community meetings, women women everywhere. If it has a vagina Chief Burgess is all up on it.

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Talk about the ultimate douchenozzle! I just hurt myself laughing.

      I could have lived without seeing that graphic image in my mind. Thanks.

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    2. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      You shouldn’t have gotten me started. This entire day is shot now. I may as well go back to bed LOL!

      http://musicfilmartculturelosangeles.blogspot.com/2009/01/mimosa-pale-giant-vagina-on-wheels-art.html

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    3. Lets be all we can be says:

      Why do these women put up with it if that kind of stuff goes on? And why dont officers complain to some kind of authority about their Chief or leaders “if” those leaders are not top notch? It seems that people inside departments should stand up and point out officers and others who are giving them a bad name, Maybe they fear for their jobs?

      I can understand that for women there is often bad effects of speaking up so they put up with bad behavior – but what about the guys — This culture of fear of speaking up – is that it? What is it? There seem to be more options than posting on blogs– or is that all they can really do?

      I want to understand as it is frustrating as a citizen to hear that officers know about bad behavior and the bad or not competent people in their department but they do not get together and protest or something and make change from within like have meetings or make coalitions and speak up. Can you please explain this? It seems people fear for their jobs ? and what can be done to change this if that is the case? and I have also heard it is too hard to get rid of a problem officer because of the union that protects them (?) so maybe it is something you cant do anything about – is this true or misinformation and what can be done about that if so?
      I like the idea of organizations being all they can be from within, too, and having a culture of excellence so that they dont put up with less than great behavior. Thank you for doing what YOU do and for all the GREAT officers out there in our city (and others) who DO DO a great job and protect us.

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  5. Ellen says:

    North Miami is only 6% safer than other cities in the US. In other words, 94% of cities in the US are SAFER THAN NORTH MIAMI. If for no other reason, that’s enough to scream that we NEED a new chief of police. Contact your city officials and tell them we DESERVE better!!!

    http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/fl/north-miami/crime/

    RIME INDEX
    6
    (100 is safest)
    Safer than 6% of
    the cities
    in the US.

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    1. Lets be all we can be says:

      Ellen, Scroll down to the chart and see North Miami listed on this chart as 20th most dangerous small city in the country! http://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/dangerous-small-cities/

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  6. Dee Fairbanks says:

    Miami Gardens, a city created by Barbara Jordan. The same commissioner who has used race as a tool since day one. Honesty, experience, education and all other attributes known to mankind means nothing in that city. Only the color of your skin and your alliance to Jordan will get you hired. Look down to Florida City and see the crime haven Jordan’s brother mayor has created in that neck of the woods.

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  7. Why North Miami Is Dangerous says:

    North Miami is one of the most dangerous cities in the nation because while crimes are occurring, chief burgess is with all his majors, commanders and sergeants playing ping pong, basketball, kickball, and soccer with kids WHILE ON DUTY. Cops should connect with kids but not the entire command staff. Who’s left to run the city. The police has a special unit called the community policing unit to participate in those events. The chief was just using those opportunities to be politicking and not be available to make tough decisions. He probably decided not to fire that cop during his game of ping pong. No wonder crime is up. This guy is a clown. I can’t believe he’s still a chief. Living in this city now has me fear that the city manager and chief are not doing their jobs. Someone please do something.

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      It’s called a photo op. Because pictures on Facebook are so effective against crime!

      I’m surprised the Chief hasn’t commissioned a professional photograph to follow him around town to take his glamor shots.

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  8. 577 says:

    North Miami,

    Keep Lenny Burgess around long enough and you’ll soon realize he is the Bill Cosby of law enforcement. He hasn’t changed.

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  9. […] the comment section of a recent blog, a reader posted a website called Neighborhood Scout, which stated that the crime index in that […]

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  10. […] own history of “unsustained” allegations of sexual harassment.  Must be some type of Good Old Boys Club unspoken rule of […]

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  11. […] with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement against Chief Burgess by a female subordinate.  I blogged it.  Chief Burgess lost his […]

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  12. […] We also know he has a soft spot for a cop who has a soft spot for the ladies. […]

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