MIAMI'S POLICE CHIEF AND CITY MANAGER NEED TO BE FIRED OVER DESTROYED EVIDENCE
ARROGANCE, INCOMPETENCE AND A CONTINUING DISREGARD FOR PROTECTING THE CITIZENS OF MIAMI, TOPPED OFF BY THE WORST KIND OF PRESS RELEASE JOURNALISM HAVE ALL LED TO WHAT HAS TO BE ONE OF THE BIGGEST IMPROPERLY REPORTED SCANDALS IN MIAMI POLICE HISTORY
It shouldn't have taken a rocket scientist, or even a cop with a Ph.D. to figure out that if you put metal shipping containers on the ground in an area open to the elements - most especially rain and the flooding that results - that there is a 1000% probability that sooner or later these things will start rusting out, and when that happens, then all kinds of insects and rats could go in and party like it was 1999.
PRESS RELEASE JOURNALISM AT ITS WORST
I first became aware of this problem on October 16th when I received a letter in the mail detailing this and several other problems within the department. The letter was factual, well-reasoned and appeared to have been written by a police officer with both first-hand knowledge of the events described, and knew and understood the law and the consequences of what the problems that he described represented to the citizens of Miami.
I published that letter on October 18th as part of a story that revisited the stories I had written about the arrest of the ticket scalper Luis Fernandez, and how the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission, in their usual and arrogant way had whitewashed the investigation of this incident that had involved both Chief Llanes and Assistant Chief Jorge Gomez.
On October 20th, I reprinted the portion of the letter that dealt specifically with the destroyed evidence because it had become evident in just the 2 days that had passed that this was indeed a major story and that it revealed not only a failure of command on the part of the Chief and his senior officers, but it also revealed a failure on the part of City Manager Danny Alfonso, who on June 8th, had released a memo announcing that he had extended the Chief's contract by a year to coincide with the departure of the Mayor - and himself - after the next Mayor of Miami was elected.
OCTOBER 31, 2016
In this second photo, you can see that the police department didn't even bother to try and place this container in a way that would have partially protected it from the rain by being covered by a portion of the I-95 Overpass.
The Manager couldn't just come out and admit that what he did by reappointing Llanes to another year was based on political and bureaucratic expediency, so he gussied it up by justifying his move in proclaiming:
"I am confident that we all agree that Chief Llanes is
eminently qualified, respected and admired by many
and will continue to a great job as Chief for the Police
Well, the Chief clearly wasn't doing a "great job," but then again, the Manager wasn't looking out for the best interests of the citizens of Miami, or for the police department for that matter by doing what he did, and so the responsibility of reappointing a Chief who clearly never bothered to leave his office and even walk around and occasionally inspect the buildings and facilities he was responsible for, which in this case was across the street from headquarters, falls squarely on his shoulders.
This brings us to Friday, October 28th - 10 days after I first broke the story of this evidence having been destroyed - when the Miami Herald and Channel 10 finally decided to do stories about this issue.
THIS ISN'T PERSONAL, THIS IS PROFESSIONAL
Although the practice has grudgingly become accepted, both the Herald and WPLG have never been strong on giving credit to bloggers who break stories, especially this blogger. When it comes to this particular story I can tell you without fear of contradiction that had I not published my 2 stories revealing the destruction of this property, no one would today know about any of this because Chuck Rabin, the Herald's current Police Beat reporter has an absolutely terrible reputation of sucking ass and refusing to write stories that are embarrassing to the Regalado administration.
That's why I have so many sources inside the police department, and why one of those sources turned to me to get his information out, because NO ONE would ever leak a story that involves wrong doing inside the Miami Police Department to Rabin, not only because they believe he would sit on it, but some cops believe he'd rat them out.
Rabin earned his reputation of being little more than a stenographer for whatever crap Regalado or any of his administration want to shovel down the throat of an unsuspecting public when he covered City Hall.
As an aside, I can tell you that a large part of the reason that this blog exists is that back in July, August, September and October of 2010, when I was just beginning to write stories about the goings on inside the Regalado administation, I was repeatedly stopped by city employees at the MRC who would pull me aside and tell me stories about how they had tried to get Rabin to look into allegations of wrong doing, and even giving him documents to support their claims.
It was those folks, and the documents that they gave me - documents that they had previously given to Rabin, and who they claimed had refused to do anything with them - that provided me with information that led to my original stories which in turn gave me credibility among city employees and which led me to rely and use documents in the way that I do in my stories to this day.
I could say therefore, that in addition to Harry Gotlieb, I owe this blog to Chuck Rabin for refusing to do his job in reporting on the corruption inside City Hall.
Once again Rabin's story on Friday night reveals how he can take what is clearly and obviously a damming story about the mismanagement within the police department and turn it into a "shit happens" story, that allows the Chief to portray himself as contrite and baffled over how something like this could happen within his department.
THIS IS HOW STENOGRAPHERS PRETEND TO BE REPORTERS
Here is Rabin and cub reporter Alex Harris' story. I have highlighted portions, which I will address with below..
The question that begs an answer is why wasn't there a "reorganizing of the property and storage unit" done before now. This is not the first story that I've written about property being taken out of the property room, or about the problems within that department.
Far more importantly is Llanes's claim that he has ordered a "third party audit of how evidence is stored," and that "the Miami Police Department will be evaluated by the Industry of Standards Certification Organization to ensure that we meet the most rigorous accepted standards and best practices in the law enforcement community."
That is ALL just blatant bullshit intended to misdirect the public, and revealing of how little effort or knowledge the so-called "reporters" with the main stream media show or have when it comes to their so-called "reporting."
DO YOU KNOW WHAT CALEA STANDS FOR?
If any of these so-called "reporters" had ever bothered to go to the Miami Police Department's website and clicked on the button that says, INSIDE MPD, they would have seen another button that says, ANNUAL REPORTS.
If you go to this page you will see a digital version of every Annual Report from 2004 thru 2015. If you open the 2008, 2010 and 2014 reports, you will discover that they all contain references to the department's assessment by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), which is what the Chief is referring to in his statement above.
The implication that somehow the Chief is introducing something new into the review process that will make thing all better is not only crap - in that it's already been occurring - but there is a very serious and unanswered question as to just what the audit team from CALEA discovered when they were here in 2014.
David Smiley - Miami Herald
If, as the above caption states, the CALEA team inspected "our buildings and facilities," then they would have inspected these shipping containers under I-95, and that in turn raises the question of what, if anything they would have said about storing vital evidence in shipping containers and bins under an expressway subject to the elements and rodents?
When I was publishing my prior stories about this destruction of property I had occasion to talk with former Chief Miguel Exposito, who at the time of the 2008 audit was in charge of the Property Room. Exposito told me how he was able to modernize the control of property by the use of a barcode system, and explained to me that during his time the process for storing unclaimed property such as bicycles under the I-95 Overpass was instituted.
More importantly, he recounted that in 2008 the department had placed a shipping container next to the headquarter's building, under a shed roof, and when the auditors for CALEA discovered this they indicated that this was not an acceptable practice and the container was emptied and moved.
After talking with Exposito, I sent a public records request to the Chief, with copies to the City Manager and all 5 of the City Commissioners, asking for a copy of the 2015 CALEA Report, as well as copies of the photos that were taken of the destroyed and damaged evidence that had been in the container.
On October 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28 I sent reminders to the Chief about this request, because as the days went by it became evident that he, like his predecessors before him, had become as arrogant and unresponsive when it came to complying with public records requests.
It's obvious why I want a copy of the CALEA audit, because, if as Chief Exposito told me, the CALEA auditors had frowned on a shipping container being next to police headquarters in 2008, then it stood to reason that they would have really frowned on the shipping containers being used to house critical evidence being stuck under the I-95 Overpass, and I wanted to see if there was any mention of that in their report.
So far, the Chief has refused not only to respond to my request, but to even acknowledge it, which in itself says volumes.
In addition to this information, I would suggest to both the news media and the members of the City Commission that they need to find out the following additional information.
1. Besides the murder case evidence damaged and destroyed, how much OTHER evidence continues to be kept in either shipping containers or bins under the I-95 Overpass?
2. Is it true that the Rape Kits are also kept in a shed under I-95, and is it true that this shed does not have a backup power supply, which could render all of that evidence useless if the power went out for any extended period of time?
3. Given the sloppy way in which evidence is supposedly maintained what are the chances that some evidence containing DNA has, or could be contaminated?
This is more than another story about a sorry bunch of public officials behaving incompetently. This is a story that has dramatic and potentially life lasting implications for the family and friends of a loved one who had the misfortune to be murdered within the city limits of Miami.
It's bad enough to get murdered - and I use this phrase in disrespect - but it's actually horrendous to have been murdered and then have the possible evidence that could put your killer away destroyed because the Mayor of Miami, the City Manager of Miami, the City Commissioners of Miami - yes they share the blame for all of this - and two, lazy, incompetent Police Chiefs all decided that it was cheaper and easier to buy a couple shipping containers and use them to store this evidence than it was to either use a city owned warehouse - like the city warehouses next to the Fire Department Headquarters that were used to house the hundreds of maquinitas back in 2010 and 2011, or to to go out and rent a proper warehouse that could be climate controlled and made safe against weather and all other hazards to store this evidence.
This is not, as the Miami Herald, WPLG Channel 10 or anyone else would have you believe is just an unfortunate "shit happens" kind of occurrence that can be blamed on rats and water.
This is a flagrant and in your face series of acts of commission and commission carried out by a corrupt Mayor that put a phony, false savings of a penny on the millage rate to short change the costs of protecting the evidence in criminal cases, a City Manager who has been playing politics at the expense of public safety, a group of City Commissioners who make a lot of noise, and then lie down and whimper when faced with making hard choices, and a Chief of Police, who if his claims he didn't know anything about any of this are believed should be fired immediately for being too stupid to the the Chief of Police, and if he did know, should be fired immediately for allowing it all to turn to shit like it has.
As for the so-called "mainstream media," either those who refused to cover this story for the last 12 days, or like the Herald and WPLG, who did, but treated as anything other than a story of gross incompetence, mismanagement and arrogance should be ashamed and embarrassed.
People who get murdered in Miami deserve a lot more from the police department than a Chief of Police who attempts to excuse the destruction of the evidence in their cases by saying that he, "was stumped as to why no one discovered the problems or alerted higher ups earlier."
Just those words are reason enough to fire his sorry ass ASAP!
It's Miami, Bitches!
NUMBER 1: Given the degree of rust and rot, the notion that the destroyed evidence container was only exposed to the elements and rodents over a period "of several months, or even longer..." minimizes the fact that the contaner was not only exposed to the elements from the day it was placed under I-95, but raises a far more significant question that Rabin chose to ignore completely. Why would you put critical evidence involving murder cases in a shipping container under an interstate highway to begin with? If you start with that question, it opens up a Pandora's Box of other questions that would lead a real "reporter" down a path that would challenge every other statement in his story/
NUMBER 2: These are self-serving crocodile tears.The most disheartening part of this mess is not notifying the families - although that is certainly disheartening - but the fact that this was all clearly preventable.
NUMBER 3: A real "reporter" would have asked, why wasn't there a standard inspection protocol? That's a pretty self-evident question, and to then allow the Chief to get away with a vague claim that "that will likely change," is just an outright dereliction of a responsibility of a reporter to get a commitment that things will actually change. As I pointed out in my October 10th story dealing with the problems with the police department's Off-Duty Program uncovered by the City's Independent Auditor, the department's response to dealing with those problems was to say that they would be resolved by September of 2017, which is when the Chief, many of his senior staff and the head of the Off-Duty program would be walking out the door with their fat pensions.
NUMBER 4: The Chief contradicts himself by first acknowledging that the department had been "looking to buy new containers for over a year," and then claiming that he was stumped as to, "why no one discovered the problems or alerted higher ups earlier."
Why were they trying to buy new containers if there weren't any problems with the ones currently being used?
He need to look no further than his mirror in looking for an answer as to why communication within his department is so bad. He's the Chief of Police! It's his department! On it;s face not an excuse as much as it is an admission that he's incompetent and incapable of commanding a department that values professionalism and accountability. It starts at the top!
The reality is however, that his admission that they were trying to buy new containers is prima facie evidence that this problem was known, and that the failure to spend even the $5000 or $6000 for a new containers shows an appalling lack of concern for protecting this evidence, and illustrates just how grossly incompetent Rabin was, because this is a contradiction that begs for a reporter's skills to question and reveal.
NUMBER 5: Yes, the floor was rotted out and covered by boxes, but the outside walls weren't, and even a moron could look at those and realize that there was a potential problems on the other side of those walls!
NUMBER 6: It can't be a blow professionally, because it's a clear and obvious lack of professionalism within the department that caused the problem to begin with.
NUMBER 7: Leave it to Mayor Tomas Regalado to demonstrate once again his cluelessness and willingness to shrug off a clear example of incompetent management on the part of someone in his administration. "They didn't check it. This is what happened." No shit, Dick Tracey! Not a word or a concern about why it happened, or even what happens now.
THE BLUE SECTION: Rabin states that the Chief posted a video on You Tube that included a promise to hire an outside auditor to suggest changes. First, if that video was posted, it has now been removed, and consequently, I have filed a public records request for a copy of that video because once it went on line it became subject to Florida's Public records Laws. Secondly, this takes us to two quotes from the Chief that were included by Channel 10 in their story, which might have been taken from that video.
Contrary to the headlines that the Miami Herald and WPLG's Channel 10 put on their stories last Friday, the real reason for the destruction of evidence in as many as 564 murder cases was not because of "rot" and "rats" or because of "environmental conditions."
That's all just crap and represents a level of reporting that would claim that the destruction of the Twin Towers was caused by bad steering on the part of the pilots.
The destruction of this evidence was not caused by a lack of pest control or an act of God, but rather by the arrogance, malfeasance and willful incompetence of Miami City Manager Danny Alfonso, former Miami Police Chief Manny Orosa and current Police Chief Rudy Llanes.
Here's how it really happened, and not how the stenographers at the Miami Herald and Channel 10 would have you believe it happened.
According to the Herald and WPLG, in early September it dawned on someone at the Miami Police Department that they had a problem with the storage container that they used to store the evidence on 564 "unclassified deaths - many of them homicides."
The claim that it took this long is refuted by the photos below which shows evidence of serious rust and rot affecting the shipping container where these evidence boxes were being kept, and which would tend to contradict any claim made by the Chief that he and his staff were kept in the dark about this until the container was opened and the evidence was discovered to be damaged or destroyed.
My sources, and by now I've come to trust my sources because none of their information has been proven wrong, tell me that there are emails that disprove the Chief's claim, and in fact the Chief himself refuted that claim in one of the statements attributed to him in the Herald story that I will deal with below..
If it in fact it had taken until September to go and look inside the container where this evidence was kept and only then discover that the evidence had been damaged and/or destroyed, then that admission in itself would support a claim of a breakdown in the command structure exceeding any previous examples of bad management of the department.
But actually it's worse then that because what has happened is not only a breakdown of the command structure that started during the reign of Chief Manny "I'll take the Use Immunity" Orosa, and continued with Chief Rudy "I'm banking my checks and counting the days" Llanes, but also includes a totally unreasonable and ridiculous penny pinching effort on the part of the City Manager to not spend the money to safeguard this evidence at least a year ago.
Why do I say this? Look at these photos released by the police department on Friday that shows the degree of rust and rot. This did not happen overnight, or over a period of a couple months. This level of metal degradation was caused by the fact that this container was kept at ground level along with other containers under I-95 in an area known to flood and subject to rain falling directly on it, and had to have been visible for at least several years.
In the first photo you can see the container sitting on the ground. Look at the degree of rot and rust, and ask yourself not only how long did it take for this container to get in this shape, but more importantly why it took the container to get in this bad a shape before anyone raised an alarm about what might be happening to the evidence stored inside?
The other alternative is that this damage was spotted and reported, but that nothing was done. A real search of emails, done in a way that would preclude tampering, I've been told would provide a disturbing answer.