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Miami Police Officers Allege Demotions Are Retaliatory

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MIAMI (CBS4) – There’s a new battle being waged in the on-going dispute between Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito and Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado.

Now, the contentious dispute includes three high-ranking officers who Chief Exposito wants to demote because he would not aid in his “political agenda” against the Mayor, according to detailed letters from two of the officers.

The documents, which are whistleblower protection requests, allege the Chief wants to demote one officer for refusing to participate in the Chief’s “war” on the mayor, and another officer for raising concerns about the budget.

In the five-page letter written by Commander Jose Perez, he alleged that “Exposito and his team are on a campaign to get [Mayor] Regalado jailed or removed from office. Regalado has tried for nearly a year to force the chief out.

Two of the chief’s deputies, Perez wrote, tried to persuade him during a staff retreat earlier this year “to get back into the Chief’s team and assist with the war to get rid of ‘the old man, Tomas Regalado.’”

Cmdr. Perez alleged Exposito informed the newly appointed city of Miami Manager Johnny Martinez of his intentions to demote three high-ranking officers. They were Assistant Chief Roy Brown, Commander Jose Perez and Commander Ricardo Roque.

Assistant Chief Brown, headed administration division, which is in the process of preparing the department’s 2012 budget. Commander Perez headed the Little Havana Branch and Commander Roque was in charge of the Flagami Branch.

When Martinez did not agree with Chief Exposito’s demotion plans, Exposito circumvented Martinez and stripped all three of supervisory authority and assigned them to desk duty.

When Perez asked what “war” the officers were referring to, he wrote, he was told that “if they don’t either put Mayor Regalado in jail or get him out of office before the Chief is gone in January, they will all be out of a job.”

Exposito’s contract ends in January, but he has said he has no plans to leave. The chief, who is on vacation, declined to comment through his spokesman, citing the city manager’s earlier order prohibiting Exposito from speaking about matters unrelated to public safety, according to CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald.

The second whistleblower complaint — a brief, five-paragraph email — was submitted by Assistant Chief Roy Brown, the head of the department’s administrative division, who warned that the police department could be “on course” for a $2.5 million deficit this year, stated the Herald.

Exposito told city commissioners last month that the department’s budget would be balanced.

“I feel that my statements about the budget are what prompted the action against me,” Brown wrote.

Roque filed a “hostile work environment” complaint with the city earlier this week, alleging the chief wants to demote him because Roque backs Regalado, supported a different candidate for Miami-Dade mayor than the chief and applied for the chief’s job.

The three officers Exposito wants to demote are still being paid their six-figure salaries. Brown makes nearly $150,000 a year; Roque nearly $124,000 and Perez about $109,000. Exposito promoted them to those positions in December 2009 shortly after becoming chief.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

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