NMPD: Background Checks “Я” Us

Background CheckAn interesting development just arose regarding the July 18, 2016 North Miami police involved shooting of an unarmed black man.

The SWAT team officer who pulled the trigger was identified as Jonathan Aledda, a four year veteran of the North Miami Police Department.  Posted on the NMPD’s website as part of the city’s recently launched “transparency portal” are the police department’s personnel files of both Officer Aledda and Commander Hollant.

What is not posted on the website, but what I found out by way of a public records request, is that Jonathan Aledda was a questionable hire in the first place.

On April 10, 2012, North Miami Police Investigator Deborah Futch sent a Memorandum to then-North Miami Chief of Police Marc Elias, recommending that Jonathan Aledda be hired based on the findings of a background check.

This Memorandum reflects that three out of four individuals recommended to “proceed to the next phase of hire.”  Those approving Aledda’s advancement were Chief Elias, Administrative Major Trevor Shin, and Background Investigator Deborah Futch.

However, Administrative Commander Neal Cuevas, recommended that Aledda “be removed from the eligibility list.”

NMPD MemorandumThe Memorandum also includes the results of Investigator Futch’s background investigation, and her positively glowing recommendation of the 25 year old single male … who still lived with his parents.

still live with momThe Memorandum also noted that Jonathan Aledda “admitted to the use of marijuana one time during high school in 2003.”

In all honesty, it’s not that big of a deal.  According to raw data statistics, 21.2 percent of his fellow 12th graders smoked pot in 2003.  Although that could explain why he still lived at home when he was 25 years old.  But again, not a deal breaker.

Jonathan Aledda also submitted to a psychological evaluation by the North Miami Police Department, and “received an ‘Acceptable’ suitability classification,” according to the Memorandum.  This was despite the “one mild to moderate deficit,” which Investigator Futch described as:

  • Lack of tolerance: Possible Characteristics include: Judgmental; Argumentative; Critical; Challenging; Confrontational; Rigid; Stubborn.

lack of intoleranceInvestigator Futch made it very clear, however, that “it should be noted that no evidence of ‘lack of tolerance’ was uncovered during this background investigation.  To the contrary, many of the individuals that were contacted spoke of Mr. Aledda’s ability to get along well with others.”

We can probably assume that the individuals contacted were those whom Aledda gave as character witnesses to testify on his behalf.

Because that’s what friends are for, right?

The investigation also revealed that before being hired by the North Miami Police Department, Mr. Aledda worked as a personal trainer, a basketball referee, and a physical therapy assistant.  He had also applied to seventeen other law enforcement agencies from 2008 until 2012, when he got the job with NMPD.

Sorry we can't hire youOf those seventeen agencies, eleven were still in progress in various stages at the time he applied to North Miami.  Five of them only noted that his application had been received, two were “in process,” two were pending his background check, and one was “selected to move forward.”

Aledda was rejected by the Orlando PD for failing the Civil Service Test.

Coral Springs PD turned him down because “he was not specifically interested, rather he applied to several agencies.”  He also applied to the Sarasota PD but withdrew his application.

The Tampa Police Department was ready to hire him, noting that Aledda’s “name will be given to Chief in April for approval to hire.”

The Big Red Flag that stood out was that Alleda was flat out rejected by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office due to his ARREST.

As WSVN Channel 7’s Rosh Lowe just reported, it seems that at the age of 21, Jonathan Aledda was arrested in July of 2007 for Petit Theft.

According to the Memorandum, Aledda “took a package of sports cards from Target” worth $158.63.

Shoplift from TargetWhen caught and arrested, Aledda was issued a PTA, which means “promise to appear,” and then released.  He then “attended a court appointed course, paid a fine, and the charges were Nolle-Prossed.”

The term nolle prosequi is defined as “an entry made upon the records of a court when the plaintiff or prosecutor will proceed no further in a suit or action.”

Investigator Futch’s Memorandum also notes that Aledda’s “record was sealed and expunged.”

Here’s the really sad part.  His “explanation” is even crazier than shoplifting at the age of 21 when shopping with mommy at Target.

Jonathan Aledda told the Investigator that while at Target after recovering “from abdominal surgery,” he saw a “large box of cards which had been opened.”  Since he couldn’t resist the temptation, he helped himself to a few of them and “attempted to leave the store without paying.”

I only borrowed it But, as Investigator Futch reported, he “takes full responsibility for his actions and he is still ashamed of what he did.”  He also wanted everyone to know that shoplifting sports cards from Target was “totally out of character.”

Somehow, Investigator Deborah Futch bought his entire sob story and then praised him because he “spoke from his heart,” was very sincere, remorseful, and embarrassed.

And, yeah, he needed a job.

In the final analysis, Background Investigator Deborah Futch, who showed absolutely no bias whatsoever (and, yes, that was sarcasm), noted that “the one blemish in his background was an arrest that occurred five years ago for Petit Theft.”

Obviously, his arrest was just a “blemish,” mind you.  One that prompted the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to send him packing.

But this “blemish” was deemed perfectly acceptable by three out of four individuals responsible for assessing Aledda’s eligibility to be a North Miami Police Officer.

Futch also took the time to note that Florida State Statute 943.13(7) requires that all potential law enforcement officers must:

(7)  Have a good moral character as determined by a background investigation under procedures established by the commission.

Investigator Futch then also noted that Rule 11B-27.001 of the Florida Administrative Code “states that the employing agency is responsible for conducting a thorough background investigation to determine the moral character of an applicant.”

She further acknowledged that the Rule 11B-27.001 also addresses the disqualification of applicants based on “a plea of guilty or a verdict of guilty after a criminal trial for any of the following misdemeanor or criminal offenses, notwithstanding any suspension of sentence or withholding of adjudication…”

Despite that Rule, Investigator Futch still recommended that the North Miami Police Department hire Jonathan Aledda because he “did not plead guilty and did not have a criminal trial.  The charges in his case were Nolle Prossed after he attended a class and paid a fine…”

In other words…

move along peopleBackground Investigator Deborah Futch, who should have known better, was obviously a poor judge of “moral character.”   She was way too quick to excuse Aledda’s shoplifting crime as a mere “blemish.”  One can only wonder if any other North Miami police officers were given a similar pass when they were hired at the time.

Just saying.

In the final analysis, despite all the red flags that everyone but Assistant Chief Neal Cuevas completely ignored, Jonathan Aledda was not only hired by the North Miami Police Department, but then went on to train as a SWAT team sharpshooter.

Yeah, that worked out well.

missed itOOPS! 😆

Stephanie

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9 Comments

  1. Ellen says:

    We are very fortunate to have Neal Cuevas as a new Assistant Chief of Police. As the former North Miami S.W.A.T. Team Leader he must have been cringing at what happened. Cuevas was a North Miami S.W.A.T. Team Leader from 1992-2011. We can all be positive that when Assistant Chief Cuevas was the S.W.A.T. Team Leader only those totally qualified would have been part of that group. This is such an embarrassment for our police department and the residents of North Miami. Thank goodness there has been a dramatic change in the police department!

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