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Showdown over Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo’s future moved to Thursday at City Hall

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 10/14/2021 Joey Flechas, Charles Rabin, Miami Herald

Miami commissioners will meet Thursday afternoon to decide if suspended Police Chief Art Acevedo should stay or go.

Hours after Miami City Manager Art Noriega moved to fire Acevedo following a string of controversies and missteps during Acevedo’s six-month tenure, city officials confirmed that a required hearing on Acevedo’s future is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Thursday at Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive.

Officials had initially said the meeting would happen Wednesday, but the hearing was pushed back. On Tuesday afternoon, Noriega’s office sent out a notice saying the hearing will take place Thursday.

The discussion is scheduled during a day when the commission has a regularly scheduled meeting to take up a full agenda of other city business. Two recent commission meetings about Acevedo stretched on for hours, in dramatic fashion.

Under city rules, the city manager does not have the sole discretion to fire the police chief. He can only suspend the chief and offer his reasoning to the five-person City Commission, which ultimately decides if the chief should be fired.


Video: Miami mayor says Police Chief Art Acevedo ‘incompatible’ with structure of city (NBC News)

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“The chief does have a right to a hearing,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said Tuesday during a press conference outside his office, noting that Acevedo was given the chance to resign. “My understanding is he is going to avail himself of that right.”

The outlook is not promising for Acevedo, who blasted three of the five commissioners in a scathing eight-page memo weeks ago, accusing them of interfering with internal police investigations. He also compared their behavior to that of Cuba’s Communist government.

Commissioners Joe Carollo, Alex Díaz de la Portilla and Manolo Reyes have been adamant about their criticism of the chief, especially after it was made public that Acevedo told police officers the department was run by a “Cuban Mafia,” an offensive term to Miami’s exile community.

Díaz de la Portilla, however, is the only commissioner who has publicly called for Acevedo’s firing. On Monday, Carollo and Reyes told the Miami Herald they plan to hear the chief out and make a determination at the hearing. Carollo said this despite leading two long and bizarre deposition-like meetings weeks ago where he dissected the chief’s history at past departments — from allegations of sexual harassment to his appearance in a tight-fitting jumpsuit at a fundraiser.

Meanwhile, a key player in Acevedo’s hire has remained silent. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who helped recruit the chief and called Acevedo the “Michael Jordan of police chiefs,” has refused to speak publicly on whether he stands with Acevedo. Suarez broke his silence at City Hall on Tuesday when he only took 10 questions from reporters and read a prepared statement where he said a situation where a top city administrator such as Acevedo is “at war” with the city’s elected leadership “is simply untenable and unsustainable.”

Assistant Police Chief Manny Morales was named interim chief.

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