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Miami’s Embattled Top Cop Gets New “Special Advisor”

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(Source:CBS4)

(Source:CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBS4) – The never ending drama over the future of Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito took another turn Monday.

Miami City Manager Tony Crapp said he is hiring–for $70,000 a year–Paul Philip to be his special advisor on public safety. Philip is a longtime lawman and was once the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Miami field office.

Philip will not give Exposito daily orders but he will have a big hand in deciding his professional fate.

A memo from the manager calls on Philip to:

  • Provide recommendations to the City Manager regarding the oversight and management of the police department
  • Assess the current department succession plan for all ranks
  • Assess the morale of the department

That is about as close to a no confidence vote as you can get without the manager actually saying so.

Exposito has been in very public spats with Miami’s mayor, Tomas Regalado and the state attorney, among others, over his handling of six police involved fatal shootings in the past year and controversial corruption probes that went nowhere.

Miami city commissioner Francis Suarez is willing to take a wait and see attitude about the top to bottom review of the department. He told CBS4’s Michael Williams, “In the time I’ve worked with the chief he’s worked well with me…but yet I’m waiting to see how this process unfolds.”

Chief Exposito issued a terse “no comment” about the hiring of Philip and Mayor Regalado declined comment too. His office noted that the city manager is the police chief’s boss and the one with the power to hire and fire.

Philip issued a statement and wrote, “I’m excited to join the city manager’s administration, and I look forward to working with him, his staff, and the dedicated members of the Miami Police Department.”

Miami Commissioner Richard Dunn, angry over what he calls a lack of response from the chief over the police involved shootings, welcomes Philip’s hiring.

Dunn did not sound like he wanted to wait for the findings of his upcoming inquiry. He concedes his mind is largely made up and he has pressed for the city manager to fire Exposito. Dunn said, “I think you already know the answer to that question. Nothing has changed.”

This just days after Chief Exposito released new e-mails Friday afternoon, detailing what looks like a back-and-forth ebtween the Chief and State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

In one e-mail, regarding confusion over police records, Exposito wrote, “I am uncertain if this situation was caused by an oversight by you or your staff, or an unsound office practice that is currently part of your standard procedures.”

In a separate e-mail, Fernandez Rundle wrote, “Nonetheless, I know you will believe what is convenient for you to believe.”

Fernandez Rundle said there’s nothing unusual about these e-mails.

“I think these e-mails are irrelevant. I think they’re just a lot of noise. I think we just need to move forward,” she said.

She also said it’s important that both agencies work together.

“The community and law enforcement benefit by having partnerships, by getting along well, by working together, and by getting passed some of these communication issues,” said Fernandez Rundle.

How much changes in the coming weeks and months is now the question as the fight over the police chief’s future opens yet another new chapter.

Philip will start his new job Tuesday, February 1, 2011.

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