Monday, December 6, 2010

Investigating the Investigators

In July, the city hired Robert Daniels as Chief of Police. His biggest challenge was to bring the police department back to a place where the department works as a cohesive unit to serve the city.

Chief Daniels has failed. The police are now working under a permanent state of investigation and favoritism. Political activities have further divided the police, community relations are bad and there is no longer even lip service to respecting the budget. In every way, our police department is in worse shape than it was before Chief Daniels was hired.

For this post, let's concentrate on one thing – the investigations. We'll talk about the other aspects through the week.

The North Bay Village PD has hired Patrick Franklin, a private investigator, to pursue politically unpopular members of the North Bay Village Police Department. Franklin has a long reputation doing internal affairs investigations for police departments around Miami-Dade and did several for the North Bay Village PD over the years. Franklin was hired in response to “citizen complaints” about social media postings that might have had political leanings and to look at publicly available records.

First problem: Why bring in an outside investigator when we have an internal affairs group in our own police department? If the PD's internal affairs is not capable of running of a preliminary investigation to see if there are grounds for a larger investigation, then that's what needs fixing. There's nothing about casual citizen complaints about dislikes of specific officers that warrant this extraordinary expense.

Second problem: Such investigations are presumed to be confidential. Yet within days, the news was all over town that Franklin was conducting inquiries about members of the PD. Now that may have been the plan, to do the investigation publicly to ferret out information, but it looks more like sloppiness than strategy.

A leader coming into the position of chief in a deeply conflicted department should be uniting the department but this looks more like retaliation than rehabilitation. Perception matters.

Kevin Vericker
December 6, 2010

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