The reign of Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega is all but officially over. The chief was scheduled to retire on December 31st, but City Manager Jorge Gonzalez has announced that the chief will use his leftover vacation days, and has now officially relinquished control of the department. Assistant Chief Raymond Martinez will take the reigns until a permanent replacement is named.
Noriega's stint atop the police department was only slightly less catastrophic than Bill Parcells reign atop the Dolphins. We bid him farewell with a list of his greatest disasters:
- A generally aggressive approach towards Urban Beach Weekend results in the dramatic shooting of a man by police this year. A gun was found in the man's car ...three days later.
- The ACLU filed suit against the department because, they claimed, "police target gay men walking near Flamingo Park for nothing more than looking 'too gay'." Two officers were eventually fired for a 2009 incident in which a gay man was arrested and beaten after he called 911 to report that he saw the officers beating a man in handcuffs. The victim said that the officers repeatedly called him a "fag and faggot."
- Adam Tavss, a Miami Beach Police officer, killed two men in four days in separate shootings on duty. Tavss said he was acting in self defense, but no weapons were found on either victim. After resigning from the force for a failed drug test, Tavss was arrested for running a sizable marijuana grow house.
- In July, Officer Derick Kuilan was drinking on duty at the Clevelander when he decided to take a woman he had just met on a joyride on his police-issued ATV on the beach in the wee hours of the morning. The officer ended up hitting a couple laying on the beach and causing serious injuries. Two cops were fired, and five others were punished for their involvement in the incident.
- Noriega had an apparent close friendship with convicted Ponzi-schemer and Miami Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro.
Oh, but that's not all, as profiled in a New Times feature by Tim Elfrink last year, more than half of officers on the force make more than $100,000-a-year. Unfortunately a handful of them found themselves on the other side of the law:
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• Officer Richard Anastasi, who earned $146,223.46 in 2009 before retiring in December, was charged shortly after leaving the force with kidnapping a man and torturing him with threats of violence to try to extort $100,000.
• Officer Eric Dominguez, who pulled in $128,853, nearly killed four motorcyclists while he was driving a city-owned car; he also abused his sick time.
• Sgt. Jerome Berrian, who recently made $225,065 in one year, was accused of domestic violence, reprimanded for sleeping on the job, and found to be lying on his time cards on the night that Kulian crashed his ATV.
• Officer Eliut Hazzi, who earned $108,371, has been accused of harassing gay men and abusing a shop owner on South Beach.
• Two other top earners -- Sgt. Steven Feldman ($190,655.38) and Officer John Pereira ($133,842.85) -- repeatedly harassed a pair of Arab officers, according to a lawsuit and an internal complaint.
Obviously, the majority of Miami Beach cops work hard to protect one of America's wildest towns. The next police chief will have a hell of a hard job ahead of repairing some of the damage endured to the force's public image and reputation under Noriega. That's a duty due not only to the citizen of Miami Beach, but to the hardworking and honest officers in the department. City Officials say they already have more than 50 application to run the force.