NBC 6 Investigation Prompts Action by Miami Police

Miami’s police chief says at least one off-duty officer will be investigated and the internal affairs unit has been reminded to thoroughly examine all evidence it reviews, after the NBC 6 Investigators revealed deficiencies in how the department oversees off-duty police activities.

“It’s a system that we recognize is less than perfect,” Chief Jorge Colina said Thursday in an interview with NBC 6. “That’s been the case for quite a while. It’s been something that’s troubled me.”

He said, for months, he’s been scouting software systems that would better track officers’ off-duty activities.

“I’d like for us to be more efficient in terms of who’s working, how many hours are they working, where they’re working,” he said.

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The NBC 6 Investigators revealed new concerns in a Sept. 25 report, including video of an exotic dancer mounting a city police car, performing a headstand and tumbling onto the street in front of off-duty officers responding to a disturbance at the 24/7 strip club Club E11even.

“The officer that is involved in that video will be investigated,” Colina said about the development since the story first aired.

He was also concerned with how internal affairs handled the video.

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They reviewed it as part of an investigation clearing one of the officers of an allegation he mistreated a woman he briefly detained, then released without charges after a disturbance at the club.

But while the internal affairs investigation carefully detailed what was happening on the left side of the video — where the officer and woman stood — it failed to note the lithe, limber dancer showing off her moves on the right side of the video.

If “there is video of an officer not following policy and that comes to our attention over at internal affairs, they should absolutely not just focus on just what is the allegation, but what is the totality of the video,” Colina said, adding, “That is something that should have been addressed.”

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He said his agency had a “sit-down” with internal affairs, reminding them “this is how our policy reads … to make sure we’re communicating properly with every investigator that it’s not just the allegation someone made that you have to look at — you have to look at the totality.”

Colina said he is already changing some off-duty policies, including requiring an on-duty sergeant to respond to all calls for service involving off-duty officers.

“One of the concerns a lot of people have had is, who is the officer going to listen to: the owner of the establishment or the citizen?” Colina said, noting having an on-duty sergeant on scene could alleviate concerns about bias.

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Businesses pay Miami police officers more than a million dollars a month, according to records reviewed by the city auditor general in 2016. Since that audit, pay has increased by up to 42 percent, but the city says it has no record revealing a total for how much officers are being paid now.

That audit and a draft report from the Civilian Investigative Panel question whether the city is receiving all the money it should, based on each hour an officer works off duty.