MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The City of Doral has hung up a “Help Wanted” sign for a new police chief.
Tuesday morning Doral Police Chief Ricardo “Ricky” Gomez was fired.
Firing Gomez was one of Merrett Stierheim’s first actions as city manager.
“Some of the conduct that was going on inside, it just needed change,” said Stierheim.
Last year, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement launched an investigation into Gomez after a letter to the city manager accused him of rigging bids to buy office furniture and misappropriation of taxpayer money.
The FDLE investigation determined that “Gomez may have violated policy, but committed no crimes, and cleared him of any wrongdoing in this investigation,” according to a memo released by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s public corruption unit.
Public corruption prosecutors decided not to charge him.
While he’s been on the job less than a week, Stierheim said he made the decision that the Gomez had to go after reading the FDLE’s findings.
”There was favoritism, very questionable management decisions, the chief or other people outside the department wanted people out, there was a systematic effort to get them out,” said Stierheim who says he also fired the chief’s executive assistant and put a Lieutenant on paid administrative leave.
Stierheim named Lt. Mike Perez Interim Chief. When asked about Gomez, Perez said, “There’s no denying that he’s highly qualified, I tell you there were some decisions that were made – I don’t know if it came directly from him or city manager – I would’ve done differently.” Perez said morale had been low in the department since the FDLE investigation.
As Interim Chief, Perez said he will give supervisors working under him more power to make decisions.
“I’m going to give them the ability to make decisions they feel necessary to function,” he said.
When asked if he thought they did not have that power before, Perez replied, “I think they were scared to make a decision and you cannot work if you’re scared. You cannot be productive if you’re scared.”
We reached Gomez by phone Tuesday, but he said he did not want to comment on the investigation at that time. He plans to hold a news conference Wednesday to discuss the situation.
Before he was named chief, Gomez spent 27 years with Miami-Dade police as an investigator, lieutenant and captain, earning his law degree at the University of Miami.
Under Gomez, the department has expanded steadily- now there are 91 sworn officers- and has focused on traffic issues.