John Timoney, America’s Worst Cop

He has spent 138 days on the road in just a few years on the job. Who’s minding the Miami Police Department?

That same year Timoney came under fire from local black activists for keeping a black book of information on rappers and hip-hop artists (including Ja Rule, 50 Cent, and Jacki-O) who came to town for Memorial Day weekend celebrations. Music industry executives said the police were "spying" and using the book to discriminate against people of color. Timoney's response: He only intended it to keep police up-to-date on rap music's warring factions.

In December the peripatetic policeman made for San Diego, where he stayed for two days at the Paradise Point Resort and Spa (located on a private island complete with "tropical gardens" and "meandering lagoons"). He was there to attend the Police Executive Research Forum and to participate in a talk called "Critical Issues in Policing."

After all of that hard work, Timoney clearly needed sustenance. So he took his executive staff out to lunch at his favorite Miami restaurant, Gordon Biersch, according to the Miami Herald. He busted a purse snatcher during the revelry.

Drinking buddies: Timoney and Mayor Diaz
AP Wide World
Drinking buddies: Timoney and Mayor Diaz

Amount spent on travel in 2004: $5090

Days away from the city in 2004: 23

The two hurricanes of 2005 didn't slow Timoney. That year he left Miami at least 10 times: Eight trips were reimbursed by the city, and two others — well, it's unclear who paid for those because they aren't reflected in city records.

Not that he did anything but work during those absences. On January 9 he stayed at the Grande Villas at World Golf Village in St. Augustine. According to the Website, it's a "country club-style vacation residence with every comfort and amenity." It's also located adjacent to the World Golf Hall of Fame. Timoney was there for the Florida Police Chiefs Association meeting.

A week later he attended a homeland security gathering in Washington, D.C., and in February he spent two days with Mayor Diaz in Key West at the Hilton for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In May he visited Haiti for a few days to assess the police force, but taxpayers picked up only the $30 tab for the departure tax; the Haitian Government paid for his hotel and food.

In June he flew off on British Airways to Scotland for a Leadership in Counter Terrorism summit. He billed the city only for his $1161 airfare; someone else apparently paid for hotels and meals.

He went to Guantánamo Bay in July, according to press reports. (The trip doesn't show up in city records.) And in August he was a keynote speaker at a fundraising dinner for the Shawnee, Oklahoma Police Foundation (that trip isn't in the records, either — and it's not clear how many days he stayed). Then, just a few days after Hurricane Katrina knocked out power and created chaos in Miami, Timoney flew to New Jersey for three days to study closed-circuit television — it was a crime-fighting tool he was considering for the city's downtown area.

"Timoney has dealt a tremendous blow to our civil liberties," says Miami activist Max Rameau. "I think he would be the happiest on some team in Iraq, crushing people who he thinks are terrorists."

In September, Timoney went to a counterterrorism meeting in Belfast for 10 days, and three months later he attended a similar meeting in Boston. He should have stayed home. While the chief was out of town, two men in their twenties — Mike Fernandez and Sigfredo Garcia — were shot and critically wounded at a bus stop at NW 27th Avenue and West Flagler Street. The men said a shooter had stalked them on the bus and hounded them for nude photos of Fernandez's younger brothers.

Around that time, Timoney experienced family problems. His son Sean was arrested in New York. Police said the 25-year-old had tried to buy 400 pounds of marijuana from an undercover federal agent. The chief, who had not spoken with his only son for two years, at first didn't want to post bail, according to The New Yorker, which profiled the chief this past March. "Just let him rot in there," Timoney said of his son. "I don't give a shit." Eventually he put his Miami condo up as collateral for bail. It was especially painful because his daughter Christine had had heroin problems in the past.

As the year ended, Morgan Quitno, a Kansas publishing company, ranked Miami-Dade the fifth most dangerous large region in the nation.

Amount spent on travel in 2005: $5945

Days away from the city in 2005: 46

Timoney took nine trips in 2006. Among the globetrotter's destinations: D.C. (four times), San Francisco, Ottawa, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

It was the year the Liberty City Seven — a group of alleged Al-Qaeda wannabes — were nabbed by the feds. Timoney wasted no time in taking credit. His mug was on CNN within hours of the arrests.

The chief's brashness got him in trouble once again. On February 12, sometime around 1:00 a.m., he was at a party sponsored by Ocean Drive magazine when two New Times editors heard him utter, "Fuck the Cubans." The newspaper reported the comment, and TV stations followed the controversy.

Predictably some Cuban politicians and officers called for the chief's resignation. Still, no one in city government seemed to care about the expense reports the chief was racking up — or if they did, no one mentioned it publicly or asked him to cut down on travel.

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