‘I'm not a quitter’: Art Acevedo discusses ouster in NBC interview

In a sometimes emotional interview, former Miami chief Art Acevedo reflected on his dramatic firing by city officials

By Joey Flechas
Miami Herald

MIAMI — In his first televised one-on-one interview since he was fired last week, former Miami police chief Art Acevedo said he had a few regrets from his six-month tenure. Among them: “Not doing my homework before agreeing to come here.”

Monday evening, NBC Nightly News aired an interview with Acevedo in which the former chief called his ouster “a pretty embarrassing episode in a 35-year career.” He reiterated accusations that elected officials meddled with police operations before firing him last week. He also said he regretted using the phrase “Cuban Mafia” to describe the city’s police leadership in a meeting with officers.

Then-incoming police chief Art Acevedo speaks during a press conference at Miami City Hall in Coconut Grove, Florida on Monday, March 15, 2021.
Then-incoming police chief Art Acevedo speaks during a press conference at Miami City Hall in Coconut Grove, Florida on Monday, March 15, 2021. (Matias J. Ocner)

A three-person majority of the Miami City Commission who came to the U.S. from Cuba as children were offended by Acevedo’s comments, but the former chief added that he felt the phrase was weaponized against him for political reasons.

Acevedo, born in Havana and raised in Los Angeles, teared up at one point during the interview, saying he wasn’t giving up on working in law enforcement.

“I’m not a quitter,” he said, voice quavering. “My mom and dad didn’t come here for us to be quitters, and I don’t plan on quitting on being a voice for this profession, and being a voice for the good police officers in this country, and a voice for those that are disenfranchised by bad police officers.”

Miami commissioners voted to fire Acevedo on Thursday, capping weeks of controversy that rattled City Hall. During the hours-long hearing, the chief’s attorney suggested Acevedo’s fate was sealed weeks prior when he sent City Manager Art Noriega and Mayor Francis Suarez a searing eight-page memo accusing some commissioners of interfering with an internal police investigation and butting into regular police operations.

After Acevedo’s memo, commissioners used several long, at-times bizarre public meetings to lambaste Acevedo’s tight-fitting costume from a fundraiser years ago. They also attacked his record in Miami and at other departments, including past sexual harassment allegations in California and a deadly no-knock drug raid in Houston.

In Monday’s interview, Acevedo told NBC News correspondent Gabe Gutierrez that elected officials meddled with police matters in a way he hadn’t seen before — accusations commissioners have vehemently denied.

“I’ve never experienced, as a police executive, what I’ve experienced here, which was really elected officials inserting themselves in operations, inserting themselves in the work of the department ... “ Acevedo said.

As for his firing during a quasi-judicial trial at Miami City Hall, Acevedo said: “It was a predetermined outcome.”

©2021 Miami Herald. Visit miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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