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Miami Police Probe Report: No Reason To Fire Chief

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MIAMI (CBSLocal) – A long awaited report on the management of the Miami Police department under Police Chief Miguel Exposito has found there is no reason to fire the chief, but it suggested the city begin the process of replacing him when he retires next year, and made a number of recommendations for changes in the department.

The report was prepared by former FBI agent Paul Phillip, hired by Miami City Manager Tony Crapp to investigate allegations of poor management leveled against the chief by the community and members of city government, including Mayor Tomas Regalado.

Crapp hired Phillip as “Senior Public Safety Advisor” as Exposito and the Mayor engaged in a political battle that had Regalado calling for the Chief’s dismissal.

Phillip’s report, released late Thursday afternoon, examined 19 shootings involving Miami police officers since Exposito was hired in 2009,and investigated the perception that there had been a significant rise in police shootings since Exposito was named chief..

After a series of interviews, Phillip determined Exposito and his command need to address a number of issues, including:

—What efforts the department has made to ensure necessary firearms training, including “Shoot-Don’t Shoot training.”

—Were any of the offices involved in the shooting spotted on the department”Early Warning” watch list?

—What has the department done to make sure officers and federal agents on joint arrests working together as they were trained to do?

Following most of the shootings, information released to the media was scarce while investigations continued; a practice Phillip said angered members of the community and the families of the victims.

“While this policy may be legally defensible,” the report said, “it often leads to the dissemination of erroneous information and additional mistrust of the police…”

Comminuty activists applaud the findings.

“The report is very favorable for the community,” said Reverand Anthony Tate, President of the People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality (PULSE). “We don’t think the policy has to change but the mindset has to change. “

Miami Commissioner Rev. Richard Dunn agrees.

“Sometime the experience or the lack of it was pretty obvious,” said Dunn. “That fear, trepidation, and maybe even inexperience could have attributed to some shootings that could have been prevented.”

Phillip said the department should address what measures need to be taken to make sure concerns about the department failing to notify the next of kin after shootings, that media questions are handled quickly, and the advisability of taking part in reality programs and social media like YouTube and Facebook.

Phillip’s report also pointed out serious concerns among department members interviewed about the fairness of the promotion process, the experience of officers and supervisors assigned to special tactical units, and any ‘barriers’ that would stopped seasoned officers from volunteering to join those special units.

Another city commissioner, Marc Sarnoff, thinks the report is not complete.

“Phillip did no have proper access to information to make substantial recommendations,” said Sarnoff. “What he could have done and what he should have done is review police procedure see what the training is. Make sure that these gentleman and ladies were all trained. He didn’t do that, he just asked questions.”

In the end, there was no recommendation in the report to fire Exposito, but it noted he must retire in just over 6 months. Phillip said the city manager should start advertising for a new chief, and make sure all candidates are put through “a thorough vetting process” to determine the best candidates.

CBS4 News has confirmed Chief Exposito has read the report, agrees with the findings, and has already begun implementing the changes suggested by Phillip.

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