Friday, April 26, 2019

Bring Him Back

On Monday, April 29, at 3 PM, the North Bay Village Commission will hold a unique kind of meeting, as specified under Florida Statute 286.011(8).  The meeting is an Executive Privilege meeting which means that it is conducted outside of public view, although full transcripts are taken and made public when litigation is concluded.  

These meetings are done under a narrow exception to the Sunshine Law to allow aspect of legal settlements to be discussed with the commission without disclosing the legal strategies used in court to the opposing counsel.   It's a place where commissioners can ask the tough questions like "How likely is the suit to prevail?" "In your legal opinion, is there clear evidence of wrongdoing?" and other considerations and expect frank answers.   

Given that our court system is based on American Gladiator model rather than one seeking justice, it's probably the only effective way to get the information.  

But it does not mean that the public should be frozen out of the process.  It does not constrain the commission from hearing and acknowledging that they have heard the public concerns about the matter and ensuring that the commission has all the information it needs to move forward, not just spoon fed information from a legal team or other paid stakeholders.   

This is especially important in North Bay Village where Connie Leon-Kreps and her fellow travellers deliberately dismantled the institutional memory by systematically firing and driving out every senior employee who could provide context and history in the process, and where our commission is now dominated by relative newcomers to the complex history of North Bay Village. 

The role of institutional memory has fallen on the public and lower level employees and their input should be carefully considered and questioned. 

Based on the Good & Welfare discussions at the last commission meeting, it is very clear that a broad coalition of the public, local police and external police departments see that bringing Noriega back is in the best interest of the Village.   What our commissioners have not done is acknowledged that public sentiment and pledged to give that support their full consideration.   They should.

From a community perspective, the reasons include:

  • Noriega restored and improved the community programs such as PAL, Crime Watch, Home Checks, School Safety and others.
  • Noriega is community focused throughout his career, maintaining as close to an open door policy as a police chief can.   
  • Noriega is not afraid to discipline police misconduct as witnessed by his swift and clear reaction to the "hurricane party" where disciplines were quickly meted out.   

But there are more reasons to bring him back.   The police support him.  I will not speak for the police but I will below quote from a recent email from the North Bay Village Fraternal Order of Police.  You can see yourself.

Under Chief Noriega’s tenure, the North Bay Village Police Department became an Agency of positive change, tremendous achievements and all around respect. For example, Chief Noriega re-instituted units such as Marine Patrol, Canine,Traffic, Motor, School Resource Officer and Community Policing. His leadership and management philosophy promoted countless initiatives, which embraced professionalism, accountability and community engagement including but not limited to a multi-agency training at Treasure Island Elementary School in order to properly prepare our Police Department to protect our students and to meet any potential threats.
During his tenure, North Bay Village enjoyed a consistent reduction in our crime rate, increased enforcement activities, and the optimization of internal and external partnerships. Our Police Department was advancing in every area unlike any other time in our history.  After Chief Noriega’s termination, the Police Department returned to a status of low morale, with limited efficiency, effectiveness and productivity during the subsequent chief’s tenure.
Chief Noriega also engaged in a Memorandum of Understanding with Miami Dade Police Department specific to Operation Stonegarden.  Operation Stonegarden supports enhanced cooperation and coordination among Customs and Border Protection (CBP), United States Border Patrol. Local, Tribal, Territorial, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies.  

This is pretty powerful and I want to point out one specific not  covered here.  Under Noriega, the police department was on track to professional accreditation, which opens us up to grants from new sources and improves the professionalism and career options for our police.   The program was dismantled under Stephanie Leon PA, our most recent police chief, and handed over to a third party who is currently billing the Village at $7,500 per month and showing no progress at all.  

And I want to reiterate  that Noriega emphasized that our police need to be ready in the event that the next Parkland or Sandy Hook happens here and instituted specific, measurable training programs to prepare our police.    

Now there are people against bringing Noriega back.  As is their custom, they operate in the dark corners of the political landscape, whispering and casting doubt on Noriega.   They include cops who do not want to face the consequences of their actions, which include stealing promotion tests and intimidating the public for political reasons.   They include former and current members of the commision who are angry that our code and laws apply to them and their friends.  There are out of towners and lobbyists who are afraid they will lose control of the PD and have to be governed like the rest of us.  

The semi-public face of this crowd is the "loser by a landslide" in the last mayoral election who is spreading her "questions" designed not to bring out the truth of the matter but to obscure the truth by sowing doubt about Noriega's reputation.   In a brilliant performance, The Loser simultaneously encouraged the few readers of her social media to engage in LEOAFFAIRS, the dark web for idiots, while simultaneously decrying that her public correspondence is referenced there.   

When the commissioners go into this meeting on Monday, they need to have two principles in mind.  
  1. How is the Village best served?   Does reinstatement of Noriega bring more benefit than drawbacks to the Village? 
  2. Has the public really been heard and has the commission genuinely listened to and acknowledged those concerns?
We are in this situation because the League of Cities was instructed wrongly to settle with Noriega for money in January, a decision that was carelessly made by the new commission, and the League of Cities have not received the clear instruction that reinstatement is the will of the community.   

In the end, the commission may choose to not reinstate Noriega.  But if they are to have our trust, the commission better be prepared to explain and defend their decisions.  Because finally it is the public who has to live with the consequences of their decision and we deserve a commission who operates solely with our best interests at heart.  

Kevin Vericker
April 26, 2019

1 comment:

  1. I support reinstating Chief Noriega because it is good for North Bay Village and simply is the right thing to do.


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