Earlier this month, the Miami Beach Police Department was hanging its head in shame when the State Attorney's Office announced that two officers had used work accounts to send hundreds of explicitly racist, sexist, and homophobic emails and text messages. When news of the scandal broke, one of the officers, Captain Alex Carulo, was immediately fired; the other, 27-year-veteran Major Angel Vasquez, had already retired last year but was put under investigation.
Now, in a email to the department obtained by New Times, Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates has indicated the more than a dozen officers who received the emails — and didn't report them — will not be punished.
"As I have made abundantly clear in these sessions and in my comments to the media, Vazquez and Carulo were the senders of nearly all the offensive emails," the chief wrote. "We also know that the State Attorney released the names of some current and former members who received some of these offensive emails. I have been asked about what will happen to these members."
In the email, Oates also writes that the issue is being discussed, and that "it is causing tension and anxiety within our Police Department family." But then he cites a clause of an existing department policy to clear the officers who received the emails from Carulo and Vasquez: "The City of Miami Beach realizes that like the telephone, we have little control over all aspects of communications received...Any unsolicited electronic correspondence received should be disposed of accordingly."
"I interpret this to mean that any member who received an inappropriate email and deleted it without forwarding it acted in compliance."
Instead, the chief said MBPD cops will undergo a summer training on leadership, diversity, and accountability, and urges his officers to move on.
"The principals who engaged in this bad conduct were Vasquez and Carulo. They are gone from our agency," he writes. And, he tells the officers, there's also a new policy in place, implementing an "affirmative duty ... to report any offensive emails that violate City or Department policy to Internal Affairs."
Oates has been making department-wide waves with his emails recently. Last week, on May 20, in the wake of the racist email scandal and ahead of Memorial Day, Officer Fulgencio Medina sent a benign mass note to his fellow officers urging levelheadedness.
"Brothers and sister, the past few days have been filled with events that we have all probably heard by now," Medina wrote. "I urge us all to let that investigation take its course..I ask that we maintain focus this upcoming weekend and not let these events cloud our judgement..I also ask that we do not forget what this weekend stands for and to be grateful to our military for the freedoms that we enjoy."
Another officer, Alberto Porro, wrote back, "Very well said Brother! I appreciate you taking the time to remind us what is important."
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But Oates wasn't pleased. He wrote back to the full department demanding an end to mass emails.
"I know this is a difficult time," he wrote, noting that officers are not allowed to send department-wide emails without his consent. "Hence, the two emails below are inappropriate and should not have been sent...Good discourse on this topic within our MBPD family should be done face to face."
On LEO Affairs — an anonymous message board for police officers — Oates has been the target of vitriol over the email, with one poster noting that "every year an officer who served our nation in the military puts out a city wide email reminding us what this holiday is about."