Miami Beach Cop Fired for Sending Racist, Sexist Emails Won't Get His Job Back

For once in Miami-Dade County, a police officer caught doing something blatantly racist won't be getting his job back.

Former Miami Beach Police Lt. Alex Carulo was fired alongside one other high-ranking cop in 2015 for sending hundreds of racist, sexist emails. The slew of garbage included images of a "Black Monopoly" board where every space sent the player to jail; an image of Bugs Bunny spewing a racial slur at Daffy Duck; a photo of a woman with a black eye with the caption "Domestic Violence: Because sometimes you have to tell her more than once"; and then just a bunch of straight-up porn and messages to an unidentified woman asking to see her "titties."

Carulo was fired in May 2015 and then appealed to get his job back. The case went to arbitration, but Carulo's termination was upheld Thursday, according to a document New Times obtained from the City of Miami Beach.

"The arbitration decision was an important victory to reaffirm that the City of Miami Beach has zero tolerance for discrimination and hatred in the workplace," Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales told New Times via email.

In a department-wide email that New Times also obtained, Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates told officers Friday that "this is an important moment for our Department. The Carulo matter was a disgrace to this great agency. It embarrassed all of us. The arbitrator’s decision yesterday affirms the high standards of this organization. Racism will not be tolerated here. It will be repudiated."

Carulo is far from the only public employee to get caught in a similar scandal as of late: A nearly identical 2014 porn-and-racist-email scandal in Philadelphia led to prison charges for ex-Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane last year.

Closer to home, four Fort Lauderdale cops were caught sending racist emails and texts to one another in 2015, including text messages threatening to lynch black people and videos showing Barack Obama wearing grills and a gold chain, black men being bitten by police dogs, Ku Klux Klansmen's hoods, and "wanted" posters for escaped slaves.

All of the public servants mentioned above were apparently too dumb to realize that racist jokes aren't funny, they invalidate their impartiality as law enforcers, and they can be tracked back to you if you send them using your police email.
During his arbitration hearings, Carulo "testified that he regarded the exhibits that the City characterized as racist as simply joking," Miami Beach arbitrator James Reynolds wrote in his decision. "A reasonable person applying contemporary understandings of the terms involved would fail to find humor in them."

According to the arbitration ruling, the police rulebook prohibits sending the exact sort of trash emails that Carulo was caught sending. Cops are barred from:
• Sending any material in violation of Federal, State, or County laws and/or City policies.

• Sending any email that discriminates against persons by virtue of any protected classification including, but not limited to, race, gender, nationality, religion, age, sexual orientation, and so forth.

• Sending inappropriate comments or jokes, cartoons, or other communications that may be considered derogatory, obscene, or offensive.

• Viewing pornography or sending photographs, videos, jokes, or stories of a pornographic nature via email.

• Sending or receiving "spam," chain letters, or other types of communications that have the potential to interfere with the proper operation of the system.
The probe into Carulo's emails apparently stretched for years: During a separate 2013 internal affairs investigation into a charge against Carulo that was later cleared, investigators first discovered he and a group of other cops were sending porn to one another on company time, according to the arbitration ruling. The department then searched through Carulo's message log and found way more upsetting texts. Internal affairs effectively sat on the investigation until 2014, when Oates became chief. Oates demoted Carulo from captain to lieutenant in July 2014.
According to city documents, Oates said he demoted Carulo because the chief "had lost confidence in [Carulo's] ability to serve as a member of the Command Staff based on his role in the emails exchanged among other members of the Department."

The department then began a much larger investigation into Carulo's conduct, in which 1 million emails were eventually examined. After the investigation ended in 2015, Carulo was fired.

The final, damning internal-affairs report said the following:
“Lieutenant Carulo used his City of Miami Beach e-mail accounts to receive and distribute offensive and/or inappropriate materials to other members of the Miami Beach Police Department, and to several recipients outside of the miamibeach.govdomain. The scope of these materials overwhelmingly included hardcore pornography; however there were also instances of racially insensitive, homophobic and misogynistic material, in addition to confidential information being passed to unauthorized persons. Altogether, there are fifty nine (59) instances of such material being distributed by Lieutenant Carulo (Appendix 1) via their City e-mail accounts.

Lieutenant Carulo also used a private e-mail address to introduce seventy-nine (79) significantly inappropriate text/graphic materials (Appendix 2) to the City e-mail accounts of various members of the police department including supervisors and to members who Lieutenant Carulo held supervisory authority over.

The emails were categorized as either: Nudity (N), Inappropriate Sexual (S), Inappropriate Racial/Offensive (IRO), Inappropriate Comment (IC), Pornography (P), Misogynistic (M), Homophobic (H), Confidential Information (C), and Inappropriate for the workplace (IW). A review of all of Lieutenant Carulo's emails revealed:

One (1) email containing confidential information.

Two (2) emails containing homophobia.

Four (4) emails misogynistic emails.

Four (4) emails containing inappropriate comments (foul or derogatory language).

Twelve (12) emails containing inappropriate sexual images or commentary.

Twelve (12) emails containing racial or offensive commentary.

Fourteen (14) inappropriate emails for the workplace.

Forty four (44) emails containing pornography.

Fifty (50) emails containing nudity.
During arbitration, Carulo argued that he deserved a second chance because he hadn't sent any offensive emails since 2012 and that other cops in similar situations had not been fired. But the city arbitrator didn't buy it.

"Carulo's actions as evidenced by his role in the emails in question are shameful and disgraceful," he wrote.

Here's a copy of the full arbitration ruling:

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.