Hours after City of Miami Police Lt. Javier Ortiz was promoted to captain yesterday, he announced he is "stepping down" from running the city's police union, Lodge 20 of the Fraternal Order of Police, to concentrate on his new on-duty responsibilities.
But he's only "stepping down" to become vice president and is appointing his best friend and confidante, fellow officer Edward Lugo, to run the union. Lest anyone fear that Ortiz, South Florida's most transparently racist and outwardly offensive cop, leaves a massive hole in the Miami police ecosystem, Lugo has also repeatedly demonstrated questionably ethical conduct and appears more than prepared to take the reins from Ortiz.
"Today has been an incredible day of changes," Ortiz announced in an FOP news release yesterday. "I was promoted as Captain of police this morning and have decided to go back to the street. I am stepping down to Vice President and placing Sergeant Edward Lugo as our President. I feel that the President needs to be someone that is in the FOP office full time. Brother Lugo is trained and experienced."
The "demotion" ends a truly unbelievable run for Ortiz, wherein he was accused of fabricating sworn police reports, caught harassing civilians, and bragged about posting a stream of racist babble online as FOP chief. He will be remembered for mounting a failed Beyoncé boycott, working to strip power from the city's Civilian Investigative Panel, and throwing a tantrum at a city commission meeting by storming city hall with his fellow cops and terrifying sitting elected officials, who briefly worried he was staging a coup. (Here's a 12-item recap of Ortiz's "greatest hits" as union president.) If some sort of deal was struck to get Ortiz out of the FOP, it's unclear what Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes gained by promoting Ortiz to captain. Ortiz is still effectively in charge of the FOP and now has amassed even more power in the department.
Through it all, Lugo has been Ortiz's steadfast consigliere and confidant.
As of 2011, Lugo had racked up 19 citizen complaints, including ten use-of-force allegations, according to local blogger Al Crespo. That number has likely risen. Crespo also obtained audio of Lugo unwittingly speaking to an FBI informant; though the FBI investigator never charged Lugo with any crimes, he provided a copy of the tape to MPD's internal affairs unit, which Crespo later posted online. According to internal affairs, the FBI alleged Lugo knew that another officer, Geovani Nuñez, was escorting "stolen cargo" and engaging in "criminal activity" but did nothing about it.
Internal affairs recommended Lugo be fired. But according to Crespo, the cop got off on a technicality: State law mandates that police internal affairs units close cases within 180 days; otherwise, an officer cannot be punished. Crespo reported that Lugo's investigation barely stretched past the 180-day mark. He got off scot-free. And now, thanks to his loyalty to Ortiz, he gets to run Miami's police union.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.