Miami commissioners officially fire Chief Art Acevedo

After the hearing, Acevedo broke his weeks of silence with a statement outside city hall


By Joey Flechas and Charles Rabin
Miami Herald

MIAMI — Miami commissioners on Thursday officially fired police Chief Art Acevedo, a brash and outspoken personality who clashed with his fellow cops, elected officials and other city administrators during the shortest tenure for a Miami police chief in recent memory.

Acevedo, 57, sat quietly in a second-row seat at City Hall for a quasi-trial that, at one point, grew contentious when commissioners who were clearly angry at Acevedo interrupted the flow of the proceeding. For most of the hearing, attorneys examined and questioned City Manager Art Noriega’s reasons for suspending the chief. City rules required a public hearing where Noriega and Acevedo acted as opposing parties in a trial, and the city’s five commissioners served as judges.

Miami police Chief Art Acevedo and his attorney John R. Byrne, arrive at Miami City Hall for a hearing to determine his job, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, in Miami.
Miami police Chief Art Acevedo and his attorney John R. Byrne, arrive at Miami City Hall for a hearing to determine his job, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

In the end, the commission unanimously voted to fire Acevedo.

Hours of testimony examined a series of Acevedo’s gaffes, controversial public statements and feelings from his top deputies that the chief had lost the confidence of the Police Department. Some of the most devastating comments made against Acevedo came from those who served as his top lieutenants in the department.

“The entire department, from the rank-and-file to the executive staff has lost confidence in the chief,” said Assistant Chief Manny Morales, who is acting as the city’s interim top cop.

Morales recalled Acevedo telling the police leadership that the department was “full of backstabbers and snakes.”

Acevedo remained silent and offered no defense during the hearing. His attorney, John Byrne, objected to the hearing on the basis that he believes Acevedo should have had more time to prepare his defense. Byrne called no witnesses, and he only cross-examined Noriega’s witnesses.

Right after Acevedo’s firing, commissioners and other city staffers gathered in a City Hall conference room away from the dais, where Morales was sworn in as the city’s interim police chief. Morales had sought to become police chief before Acevedo’s hire, and he became the acting top cop after Acevedo’s suspension.

“We are are going to get back to to serving the public,” Morales said.

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After the hearing, Acevedo finally broke weeks of silence by reading from a prepared statement outside City Hall after the vote. He said he came to Miami with the best of intentions and this wasn’t the outcome he and his family had hoped for.

He thanked the city’s Black police union and residents and officers who supported him. And in a sometimes quivering voice he said there is still work to be done.

“From day one I made it clear the Miami Police Department had to be committed to constitutional policing,” Acevedo said. “The department was and continues to be in need of reform. I lament the fact that I do not have the opportunity to continue serving.”

Acevedo also said he followed through on his threat to forward his findings to “the proper government authorities,” referring to a blistering eight-page memo he sent Noriega and Mayor Francis Suarez where he accused some commissioners of interfering in an internal police investigation.

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

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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