Is it “Black Monday” yet?

black-mondayFootball is not a sport for whiners or crybabies.  Players must prove themselves worthy or they get cut from the team.  There are no participation trophies in the NFL.

Head coaches also have a job to do.  At the end of football season, if their teams don’t perform as expected, they can be given their walking papers as well.  On “Black Monday,” the day after the 17th Sunday of football season, the axes fall swiftly and mercilessly.

With so much at stake, professional football team owners have to be ruthless.  It’s all about the money, and football is big business.

The stakes, however, are much higher in the world of professional law enforcement.

No one should understand the concept of “team” better than North Miami Police Chief Leonard Burgess.  If nothing else, all those flag football games should have taught him the importance of putting your best players on the field and insisting on sportsmanship.

After all, as in football, a police department’s team is only as effective as its head coach.  Or police chief, as it were.

Granted, in police work, it’s not about the bottom line.  Police chiefs don’t answer to team owners, who are in the business of making money.

Police chiefs do, however, have to answer to an even “higher authority” – the residents of the community they have sworn to protect and serve.

While a winning season is the be all and end all in football, there is no scoreboard in police work.

Crime stats, even accurate ones, mean absolutely nothing to residents living in fear of burglaries, rapes, drive by shootings, gang wars, and of course, murders.

It’s even worse when those residents also have reason to be concerned about the police officers charged with protecting them and their families.  Who can they turn to when a police officer is the problem?  Can victims of harassment by rogue cops trust the leader of a police department who refuses to properly discipline bad behavior?  Can they trust their chief of police when an atmosphere of lawlessness pervades the entire department?

If the negligent retention of Police Officer Jodlyn Antoine, whose horrific record is now legendary, wasn’t enough to warrant the firing of Leonard Burgess by City Manager Aleem Ghany, what will it take?  Will the outrageous actions of police dispatcher Larry Coffee, who only received an eight hour suspension after threatening to kill someone, finally get Ghany’s attention?

Last night viewers were horrified while watching Local 10’s investigative reporter Ross Palombo’s shocking broadcast.  He uncovered a recording of North Miami Police Department’s 911 operator Larry Coffee as he was cursing and threatening to kill a telephone operator at the law offices of Hayt, Hayt & Landau from his personal cell phone while he was “on duty and at his desk.”

When the operator advised Coffee that he couldn’t discuss the matter without verifying his identity, Coffee threatened:

Coffey threatWhen the operator tried to end the call, he responded with:

Coffey threat 2The law firm’s operator felt so endangered by the behavior of the North Miami Police Department’s 911 dispatcher that he ended up calling the Miami-Dade County Police Department for protection.

For this heinous infraction, Chief Leonard Burgess “punished” Larry Coffee by sending him home for a day without pay.  When Coffee returned to work the following shift, it was business as usual.  Just another Nothing-to-See-Here-Folks-Moment in the dubious career of a man whose enigmatic rise through the ranks of law enforcement is unfortunately far too typical in organizations where promotions are based on kissing the right asses instead of merit.

To make matters worse, city managers are hesitant to fire anyone who might file a wrongful termination lawsuit, which is why so many incompetent bureaucrats get to keep jobs they don’t deserve.

In the case of Jodlyn Antoine, Chief Burgess could claim that all of this officer’s infractions were committed before he was appointed to the head position.  But, by the time Antoine’s latest Internal Affairs investigation was concluded, it was the Chief’s job to mete out his discipline.  Antoine’s slap-on-the-wrist suspension – 200 hours of unpaid leave – came right on the heels of his being paid to stay home for eight and a half months.

Police dispatcher Larry Coffee’s uncontrollable outburst and direct threat to kill another human being should have led to his immediate termination.

Instead, good old Chief Lenny told Coffee, “Take a day off.  See ya tomorrow.”

Seriously?

Keep in mind that Larry Coffee’s job requires him to possess a tremendous amount of self-control.  He’s the person who answers the phone when you call 911 in an emergency.  If you’re in a state of panic because you or a loved one is hurt or in danger, it’s absolutely critical that the person on the other end of the telephone line remains as composed, professional, and clear headed as possible.  That dispatcher may need to keep you calm by remaining on the phone until help arrives.

He may be a total stranger, but his voice is the only lifeline you desperately cling to for emotional support during a crisis.  Can the residents of North Miami trust someone with Larry Coffee’s temperament to be that lifeline?  If he’s capable of going off the deep end at the drop of a hat, how can he possibly prevent you from doing the same?

It’s quite obvious that Larry Coffee has a short fuse and an inability to react appropriately to even a moderately stressful situation.

Even scarier, according to the North Miami Police Department’s Internal Affairs report, this man who so easily flies off the handle:

Coffee threat 3Isn’t that comforting?

The reporter tried to interview Chief Burgess, who ran from the camera to schmooze with the politicos inside Council Chambers.

Coffee threat 4After Mr. Congeniality was done working the room, he finally came out to answer Ross Palombo’s questions.

When asked if an eight hour suspension for Coffee was enough, Burgess said, “It was appropriate for the disciplinary process that we have in place.”

Wait, what?

Who implemented that flawed “disciplinary process” in the first place, Chief?

Chief Leonard Burgess also showed his ineffectiveness as a leader when he couldn’t even understand a simple question.

The reporter asked him, “Hearing him freak out like that on one phone call, can he can take a 911 call for the city?”

Chief Lenny’s response?

“He’s a 20-year veteran, and that’s why he was disciplined for that incident.”

HUH?

So Coffee was only disciplined because  he was a 20-year veteran?  As opposed to … what?

Never mind.  That answer wouldn’t make sense regardless of the question.  Chief Burgess has got to be either the dumbest, or the cagiest, Chief of Police in the history of the North Miami Police Department.

North Miami Councilman Scott Galvin was visibly appalled “not only at the dispatcher’s actions, but at the Police Department’s reaction.”

“One day [of suspension] for those types of threats?” he asked on camera.  “That’s a small price to pay for leveling threats against people’s lives and threatening to stick a gun in somebody’s mouth.”

Ya think?

Never one to hesitate calling out public officials for corruption, Galvin is the only member of the City Council so far to publicly comment on the lack of confidence he has in this Police Department under this Chief.

“When you or I dial 911, those calls are going to him.”

You’d better hope Coffee is in a good mood.

In the wake of this latest exposé, Ross Palombo stated that City Manager Aleem Ghany has “serious concerns” and is “now looking into all of this, not over just what was said but by how all of this was handled.”

If Aleem Ghany is at all concerned about “how all of this was handled,” he should also be troubled by how all the other issues plaguing the North Miami Police Department are being handled as well.

For one thing, the Chief completely dropped the ball with Jodlyn Antoine.  Since this serial violator has been negligently retained, and was allowed to return to duty with full access to the police database, it’s only a matter of time before something else goes awry.  Just imagine the outcry if the next young woman he stalks turns out to be the wife, sister, daughter or niece of a sitting council member!  There will be hell to pay.

There’s also the concern that Chief Burgess has yet to alert the public that a double homicide was committed on April 13, 2015, and the perpetrators are still at large.

The Chief’s latest decision not to fire Larry Coffee for his violent outburst on the job is just another in a string of poor decisions made by this Police Chief since his appointment last summer.

If the City Manager were at all concerned about the safety of the residents of North Miami, he’d finally take steps to “reorganize” the leadership of the Police Department.

Police Chief Leonard Burgess has already demonstrated how his improper decisions have directly affected the safety of North Miami residents.

As the “head coach” of the Police Department, Leonard Burgess has failed miserably.  Aleem Ghany must take immediate action before the “team” suffers any more losses.

Remember, this isn’t the NFL.  It’s not even flag football.

This is a law enforcement agency.

It’s a matter of public safety, life and death.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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14 Comments

  1. NMRetired says:

    Point of information Steph..NMPD is not a 911 facility. NM residents get NMPD first who assess the call and then send it to NMPD.

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  2. NMRetired says:

    Sorry. That’s Miami Dade PD first

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  3. Stephanie Kienzle says:

    Thanks.

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  4. NMPD active says:

    Unless the caller dials the station directly which is known to happen for residents who have the station phone number.

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  5. Keystone resident says:

    Kudos to Scott Galvin for speaking up about this bad police chief. I’m glad to see that one of our councilmembers is taking up the baton to look out for us. Its about time we had politicians who actually have an interest in bettering our city and not just ticking off another day toward their paid health insurance.

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Hopefully, Scott Galvin will impress upon Aleem how dire the situation is.

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  6. Not a dumb rookie says:

    Ms. Kienzle you should investigate more about the crime stats and how the reports are classified.

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Working on it!

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  7. KeystoneCouple says:

    Can it really get any worse? It’s seemingly never ending. Burgess shouldn’t even be allowed into Keystone. I applaud Galvin for speaking publicly. Burgess needs to be given the option to resign. So if I dial 911, how do I know I’m going to get the decaf version of Coffee? He should not be an officer and should have been fired. As a resident I’m appalled and scared. I’m disappointed in Ghany. I’d like to know who was on the discipline panel for that 1 day suspension he got. Was it just Burgess making that decision?

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  8. […] the Chief Lenny tradition of rewarding bad behavior (See: Jodlyn Antoine and Larry Coffee), and punishing whistle blowers and cops with integrity, could Burgess have somehow influenced the […]

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  9. […] then there’s the time that a dispatcher in Chief Lenny’s police department made death threats over the phone while on […]

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  10. […] then there’s the time that a dispatcher in Chief Lenny’s police department made death threats over the phone while on […]

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  11. […] proud moment in NMPD history under Chief Lenny’s watch, was the time one of his dispatchers made death threats from his personal cell phone while on duty.  When questioned by the media about the incident, and […]

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