MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – CBS4 News has learned that a much anticipated report on Miami’s police department and its embattled police chief will be a mixed bag of praise and criticism, but will not provide sufficient fodder for those calling for the chief’s head.
City Manager Tony Crapp hired former South Florida FBI boss Paul Phillip in February to conduct a top to bottom review of the police department and the performance of Chief Miguel Exposito.
The move to bring in the outside consultant came as Exposito was under withering criticism following a spate of fatal police shootings in African American communities. Exposito was also embroiled in a heated dispute with Mayor Tomas Regalado.
The chief had accused the mayor of attempting to interfere with a crackdown on illegal gambling machines in bars and bodegas across the city. The chief, in letters to federal and state investigators, suggested that Regalado was intervening on behalf of organized crime elements who had an interest in the gambling machines.
At the time Phillip was hired to review the department, some saw it as a possible effort to provide cover for newly appointed city manager Tony Crapp, should Crapp decide to fire Exposito.
Phillip adamantly denied being brought in as a “hatchet man” when he spoke to CBS4’s Gary Nelson on February 1st.
“If there was a notion that there was a preconceived result that they wanted, they should have hired somebody else,” Crapp said.
CBS4 News has learned that Phillip’s report, to be released early next week, will outline strengths and weaknesses in Exposito’s leadership of the police department, but will be far from a condemnation of his performance.
Exposito told CBS4’s Nelson Thursday that he has not seen the report, but is not surprised.
“I’m not shocked if the results are what you have heard,” Exposito said. “I think we have an excellent department. We have won some national awards this year because of our community policing efforts.”
Exposito said he also won’t be surprised if the report criticizes his handling of relations with the community during the police shootings.
“We went through a lot of self-assessment during the year,” Exposito said. “We’re never satisfied with the level of service that we give, no matter how good it is; so, we are always trying to improve.”
City Manager Crapp told CBS4 News he had seen a draft version of the Phillip report and described it as “fair, balanced and objective.”
Exposito’s strongest critics said they still think he should go, regardless of the consultant’s findings.
“I just think it’s time for a change,” said Commissioner Richard Dunn, who has accused Exposito of encouraging his officers to use deadly force in dealing with African American suspects.
“The leadership performance, the judgment, has not been good and that has been my whole issue,” Dunn said Thursday.
Mayor Regalado said he just hopes the consultant’s report will lead to better policing.
“Safety is the issue. I don’t care who the police chief is,” Regalado said.
Reminded that Exposito had accused him of meddling in an investigation involving organized crime, Regalado said, “To me, that’s just water under the bridge.”
Regalado has denied Exposito’s claims and stressed Thursday that “not one agency” has contacted him to follow up on the chief’s allegations.
A high level source told CBS4 News that the city administration has concluded it would make little sense to try to let the police chief go and invite a lengthy, expensive lawsuit given that Exposito has already announced he will voluntarily retire at the end of this year.
(CBS4’s Jim DeFede contributed to this report)