Letters from the Issue of August 29, 2002

One cop would rather resign than compromise his integrity

Something Is Rotten in the City of Miami

Specifically in its police department -- and I should know: As one of your most loyal readers, I must say that rarely has an article stirred my emotions as much as Tristram Korten's "Travail to the Chief" (August 22). After reading it in its entirety for the third time, I have no choice but to respond.

I've been a police officer for more than twenty years and will retire from the Miami Police Department this February. It may be in my best interest to stick around for a few more years and leave with a pension that would allow me the opportunity of never having to work again, but I would rather leave this institution with my integrity. Unfortunately this will result in having to find employment elsewhere, with the probability of fewer benefits and less pay. However, I would rather retire than risk becoming a hypocrite, like so many people at this department.

For the last couple of years Chief Raul Martinez has posed in front of cameras telling the community how he has rid the police department of corruption. During his appearances he has portrayed indicted officers as Judases to both the department and the community, yet he has omitted other information while doing so.

Why has Chief Martinez failed to mention during interviews that the State Attorney's Office has used knowingly perjured testimony in its attempt to convict an officer? Why does the chief condone the decision of the U.S. Attorney's Office to indict certain officers, who incidentally are all Hispanic, while ignoring non-Hispanics? Why has Chief Martinez not mentioned that the U.S. Attorney's Office, in its zeal to convict, has caused the indictments of four officers with perjured testimony from the so-called victim? Is the chief aware of the victim's criminal past, or that shortly after this individual was released for his cooperation, he assaulted a minor?

If Chief Martinez really believes in these indictments, why has he not questioned the prosecutors' unethical actions? He cannot claim ignorance. I have personally advised him and provided proof of numerous misdeeds, but he has chosen to close his eyes. For someone who has faced investigation himself, the chief should be more cautious in such a situation. Unless, of course, he is trying to hide something.

Now comes the New Times article and I learn about the chief's 1977 prostitution case. If this were not such a serious issue I'd be laughing hysterically. I once thought former President Bill Clinton took the cake when he claimed he didn't inhale and that oral sex was not really sex, but Chief Martinez's explanations outdo Clinton's. Maybe the chief used the same advisors as the president.

The internal-affairs investigation that cleared him can only be described as a complete and total coverup. Unfortunately the public will never discover the investigator's identity because, as reported, the file no longer exists. Now the chief states, "I can tell you that no oral sex was performed on me." Please, who does he think he's fooling? The only thing I'm left wondering about now is whether the other officers involved in the chief's case have also moved up the career ladder. Now, that would most definitely be considered a conspiracy.

You can see why I must retire. The stench of hypocrisy emanates from every pore of this organization. And finally, to those senior officers who were so courageous in coming forward to provide information for the article yet were so cowardly they wouldn't allow their names to be used, I say shame on you. You should make a gracious exit along with Chief Martinez.

Sgt. Rafael Martinez


Bad Cops, Wrong Department

Yes, we've had our problems, but McDuffie wasn't one of them: I am a proud City of Miami police officer, regardless of the fact that our police department has been through hell. I have no problem owning up to the fact that many of our officers have been involved in scandals. But I do not appreciate taking the rap for another agency's misconduct.

In his article "Travail to the Chief" (August 22), Tristram Korten refers to "Miami police officers" involved in the beating of Arthur McDuffie. Because it is a frequent source of ammunition for New Times writers, let the record show that Miami-Dade (then Dade County Public Safety) officers killed McDuffie. But it makes the article sound better if Miami Police Chief Raul Martinez was rising through the ranks when his peers were out beating McDuffie to death. And because the average reader doesn't know the difference between the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, Miami Shores, and Miami Beach (to them it's all just Miami), they'll swallow it without thinking twice. That is dishonest and irresponsible journalism at its worst.

Armando R. Aguilar


Editor's note: Officer Aguilar is correct. All those charged in the death of Arthur McDuffie worked for the county police department. The incident, which began when police chased McDuffie on his motorcycle, occurred December 17, 1979. At approximately 1:15 a.m. the chase ended within Miami city limits at North Miami Avenue and 38th Street, where McDuffie was severely beaten. Four days later he died. New Times regrets the error.

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