It might be wishful thinking, but vociferous Miami Police union boss Armando Aguilar is still cheered by the rumors. "I've heard he's supposed to be leaving soon," he says. "Maybe by next week."
He speaks of the resignation of Chief John Timoney, nemesis of the officers' union.
Timoney has been dogged by scandal since taking the top cop job six years ago; he was roundly criticized and then sued for overreacting to the Free Trade Area of the Americas riots in 2003. He was nailed for indefinitely "test-driving" a free Lexus from a local dealership last year. And last September, New Times exposed that Timoney has the attendance record of a stoner freshman at UM, spending more than four months networking and speaking on the road, rather than at home minding the department. It's more of the same recently, with Timoney hobnobbing at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Says Aguilar: "He's an absentee landlord."
But when Timoney vacates the position, Aguilar likely won't be pleased with the replacement. Insiders say Deputy Chief Frank Fernandez, also a crony of Mayor Manny Diaz, is next in line. In a recent poll, 85 percent of Aguilar's union registered "no-confidence" votes against Fernandez — five percent more than even Timoney received.
It's tough to find fault with Fernandez's record. In 23 years on the department, his only reprimands have come from minor accidents in his patrol car. And his personnel file shows him as a young sergeant's pet who received accolades for volunteering at seemingly every police event, including helping to run the '92 "Pig Bowl" football game (we couldn't make this stuff up). The schmoozing paid off: Fernandez went from a 19-year-old recruit making $6.94 an hour to his current position, which earns him $174,319 a year.
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But in this role, Fernandez oversees the department's use of CompStat, a computerized crime-statistic tracker that quantifies cops' work like that of telemarketers, complains the union. When numbers spike, Fernandez comes down hard on officers. So naturally the stats get doctored. (Can you say Ken Jenne?)
Thus, burglaries are classified as vandalism, armed robberies as simple thefts, and assaults as domestic disturbances. Then the department heads earn praise for stamping out serious crimes.
So to Aguilar, the chief and Fernandez are one and the same. "They treat police like little kids; they micromanage," he says. "When you lack leadership ability, what you do is you lead by fear."
Through a spokesperson, Fernandez declined to comment about the possible appointment. "At this time, Chief Timoney has not resigned," said Kathy Walker, "and we've not heard he has any plans to."