Letters

Chief Warshaw's Invitation: How Ironic
I just finished reading Elise Ackerman and Michelle Mayer's article "Policing the Police" (October 24), and found Miami Police Chief Donald Warshaw's sentiment ("The police department ... invites citizens to complain ... in order to foster community confidence in the department") to be rather ironic, given my experience.

My mother had an unpleasant encounter with a Miami police officer on February 17, 1996. Immediately afterward she attempted to contact internal affairs, but because it was a Saturday of a holiday weekend, she was told she would have to wait until the following Tuesday. That was only the beginning of her delay.

It took numerous phone calls and letters to internal affairs, and finally a letter sent directly to Chief Warshaw, before she was able to arrange for internal affairs to take her statement (and mine, as a witness). But this was not until April 11, nearly two months after the incident.

At this long-awaited meeting we provided photos, medical bills, and other documentation, as well as our statements. We felt we had a solid complaint. So what was the result? Who knows? We've never heard a word since the meeting. We have no idea whether there was even a review of the complaint. So much for community-confidence-fostering procedures.

Donna M. Gray
Miami

Cops Who Make the Grades
Statistically, the average police officer graduates from the lowest one-third of his or her high school class. The only question then would be this: From which third of the police force are internal affairs officers selected? That might answer many questions.

Johnny Bohica
Miami

Police Misconduct -- the Untold Story
Discussing the process of investigating police misconduct is a subject that would take considerably more time and space than you allotted in your recent article. For example, the writers state, "The simplest result is also the most uncommon: They 'sustain' the case...." How can you state that a sustainment in an investigative case is the simplest? The "simplest result" would be a case that is professionally investigated and then an appropriate disposition given. It would be unfair to all involved to simply say, "Sustain this case."

By professional I mean that the victim, witness(es), and officer(s) be interviewed in accordance with Florida law (including the Garrity rights for police officers). The reason that the State of Florida has the Police Officer Bill of Rights is because of the unique responsibilities police officers have.

Additionally, on page 23 the word arrangement is used to describe the due process of police misconduct cases. If a municipal police officer is accused of misconduct and his or her department has the resources to investigate, it should be kept at that level. In the event the case is substantiated, then state authorities (such as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement) and possibly federal authorities can take action. Your use of the word arrangement implies that the echelon system of due process is an "arrangement" to benefit police officers. This "arrangement" is to openly and honestly investigate a case where a police officer, who performs a vital function in our society, is accused of misconduct.

The article also failed to properly express the environment in which police officers must work. Most of the time when a citizen calls the police it is not to invite him or her to dinner or compliment them on their performance. Citizens call the police when there is a social ill, and then they demand, "What are you going to do about this, officer?" To perform the job properly it takes discipline and patience. It also takes teamwork, which the article distorted by using the phrase "cops cover for cops." When there is a street fight involving ten gang members and you and the police officer standing next to you have to break up the fight, with onlookers cheering on the gang, you will begin to learn about teamwork, not about covering up.

There is always room for improvement in any profession. In a desire to improve the police profession, let's not step on the rights of the people who are protecting ours.

David H. Williams
Miami Beach

Editor's Note: David Williams is a Miami Beach police officer.

So Proud of Cachao They Ditched Him
In reading John Floyd's "Reverb" column (October 17), I was surprised and angered to find an inaccuracy regarding Crescent Moon Records and Israel "Cachao" Lopez. We are extremely proud of our association with Cachao and have strived to bring him the recognition he so richly deserves. The fact that both his Crescent Moon releases earned him Grammy nominations, with volume one taking home the prize, shows the commitment Crescent Moon has made not only to Cachao's music but to Latin music in general. Cachao has enjoyed a long and distinguished career and we are extremely proud to have been the vehicle that helped bring him into the mainstream.

Cachao is 79 years old, a fact that no one can deny. Neither his age nor his health ever prohibited him from getting out and promoting his album releases. Crescent Moon did not, as Floyd incorrectly reported, "decline to renew his contract." Simply stated, he fulfilled his recording commitment, which was a two-album deal.

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