MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — Miami officials have decided to fire the city’s new police chief, six months into his tenure after he was criticized by city commissioners who he accused of meddling in the police department and internal affairs investigations.
Miami City Manager Art Noriega said Monday that he suspended Chief Art Acevedo with the intent to terminate his employment.
Noriega said the relationship between Acevedo and the organization has become untenable and needed to be resolved promptly.
The chief had been lambasted by city commissioners in recent weeks for remarks Acevedo made about a “Cuban Mafia” running the department. He later apologized, saying he didn’t know that was a term former Cuban leader Fidel Castro used to refer to exiles.
Acevedo was recruited by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and was sworn in in April.
Acevedo had a national profile as a progressive law enforcer in Texas, with a deft touch at building community support. And as a Cuban refugee, born in Havana, he was believed to be a perfect fit for the city’s Cuban American culture.
But Acevedo began making waves almost immediately after he was sworn in in April by taking over internal affairs and making significant changes to his command staff. He demoted four majors and fired two high-level police officials — a married couple — because they weren’t truthful about a crash involving a city-issued SUV.
At two meetings over the past month, commissioners attacked Acevedo and his leadership, appointing themselves to an investigative committee with subpoena power to examine his appointment.
At one of those meetings, videos were played of Acevedo impersonating Elvis Presley dancing the “Jailhouse Rock” in the iconic white jumpsuit and entering a dance floor of a fundraiser, slapping a woman’s rear with a piece of paper. At another, city commissioner Joe Carollo asked that Acevedo arrest him if he had proof that he and other politicians were interfering with internal affairs investigations.
In an eight-page memo sent by Acevedo to the city manager and mayor before those meetings, Acevedo stated that Carollo and the other commissioners were interfering with internal affairs investigations, and improperly ordering police resources to be deployed against certain establishments “based on nothing more than the whims of commissioners.” He also accused the commissioners of hampering his reform mandate by eliminating positions.
His short tenure has been filled with controversial decisions and gaffes that also include posing for a picture with one of the South Florida leaders of the white nationalist group the Proud Boys.
Acevedo formerly served as police chief in Houston and Austin, Texas.
Assistant Police Chief Manny Morales will serve as interim chief while the city searches for a permanent replacement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.