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
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.
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
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.
Your publication's reputation certainly precedes itself. It is truly a shame that you allow this type of shabby tabloid journalism to prevail in South Florida.
Frank Amadeo, vice president
Crescent Moon Records
John Floyd replies: Amadeo is being disingenuous. When a contract between an artist and a record label expires, and the label chooses not to continue working with the artist -- well, Amadeo can call it what he wants. The fact remains that Cachao -- without doubt the finest artist ever to grace the Crescent Moon imprint -- is now a man without a label. That said, I stand by my reporting.
The Bad News: Still Disgraced
The Good News: Free Pipefitting
I read Kirk Semple's story about Alex Daoud ("The Haunting of Alex Daoud," October 10 and October 17) and I was saddened by the fact that Alex felt he had no friends. I think he has more friends than he'll ever realize: common people, workers. I'm a pipefitter for Pipefitters Local Union 725. I'm also a delegate to the AFL-CIO, and Daoud always made me feel special.
He tried to make everyone feel important, to feel that they have their deed to do, and no matter how menial it might be, that deed was important. He saw to it that we got decent wages from our employers, that we had adequate medical insurance, and that we had retirement programs. He spoke to each of us as if we were the president of the United States.
I thought he was a decent, decent guy. I know he made some mistakes; I know he did wrong, and I'm saddened by that because I think he could have gone a long way and represented all of us. He might be considered a kind of Robin Hood: He may have taken money from the rich, but he never took money from the poor, and he always made sure the working man on Miami Beach got a fair shake. There are a lot of working stiffs who have never forgotten that. The guy still has a special place in my heart. I pray for him and my wife prays for him, and we won't forget him.
Lionel's Open Letter to Alex Daoud
I am writing this letter because I know you slightly, well enough to be sure that you must turn your back on those "friends" who "betrayed" you. These people never were your friends. They always used you, they are real criminals. You really don't, or shouldn't, want anything from them -- just to be away from them. The life of crime is ultimately stupefying -- the cleverest crooks get stupid from it. You were never any good at it anyway.
Odio: Callous and Evil
I was appalled by the extremely poor taste, callousness and, yes, the ill (and evil) will reflected in the article about the Odio family ("Dynasty," October 10). The American justice system is based on the premise of innocent until proven guilty. Mr. Odio is certainly entitled to that right under the law.
Let us also not forget that Mr. Odio was present and made a difference during Miami's darkest moments: Mariel, racial disturbances, Hurricane Andrew, and the balsero crisis. Let us be respectful of Mr. Odio's and his family's right to dignity and privacy.
Alina Lopez Gottardi
Odio: Not That We Loved Cesar Less but That We Loved Miami More
New Times sought to bury Cesar, but the Cubans came to praise him.
The Publix Mosh Pit
I am writing in response to Lionel Golbart's letter regarding my comments as quoted in Ray Martinez's article on shopping at the South Beach Publix ("Publix Maximus," October 3), in which I indicated that I refuse to use the Publix parking lot and rather choose to pay to park at metered street spaces.
First, for the record, unlike the quote attributed to me, I simply stated that I have never parked my car in the Publix lot. The author, apparently noticing my car, embellished, and changed my comment to "I never park my Mercedes Benz...."
Mazel tov to Mr. Goldbart, who always finds a space in the lot. But parking space availability (or lack thereof) was not my point. Rather, my issue is the bedlam one confronts upon entering the parking equivalent of a mosh pit. The point wasn't about protecting or preserving my Mercedes, but my sanity.
Inexplicably, Mr. Goldbart likens my refusal to use the parking lot to "those snobs who brag of not owning a TV set." Huh? In a weak and vain attempt to find deeper psychological meaning in my comments about parking, the simple truth -- that the parking lot is a nightmare -- was sacrificed to pseudo-intellectualism. Sometimes, as Freud said, a cigar is just a cigar.
By the way, I have owned five cars since I have been shopping at this store, and none of them, including that ultimate status-mobile, a 1980 AMC Spirit hatchback (two-tone blue with baby-blue velour seats) has ever entered that lot. None ever will.
Ray Martinez replies: Mr. Heid is quoted in the story as saying, "In thirteen years shopping here I've never parked in the lot." That quote was neither changed nor embellished, and obviously does not indicate the kind of car he drives. That he drives a Mercedes Benz E300 was simply reported as fact in the context of his comments.
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A Youngster Gets Funky
It's tough to build a base for something when the word can't get out. But you tried, and it's amazing that George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars ("Calendar," October 3) brought out as many people as they did. Your newspaper brings a touch of taste to a city that can't seem to get all the facts. And it's nice to know there are fans of Clinton and P-Funk under the age of 30. I'm one of them.
Thanks for the excellent work.
An Old Fart Speaks
Thanks to John Floyd for the kind words about our show ("Reverb," October 3). The audience was great. It was incredible that those young kids knew the words to our songs. A lot of them were only a little older than my own kids, who, by the way, think that their uncle (Eat guitarist/vocalist Michael O'Brien) and I are pathetic old farts. Thanks again for the encouraging words.