Despite being suspended from the Miami Police Department for the past 11 months, Capt. Javier Ortiz — one of the department's most problematic officers — is running to once again represent City of Miami police as their union president.
In a campaign video released this week, Ortiz announced his bid to regain his seat as head of Miami's Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) after he lost to current president Tommy Reyes in December 2018. Ortiz even created a campaign website for his reelection bid, on which he touts weakening Miami's civilian-led police oversight board as one of his accomplishments as past president.
Ortiz previously led the FOP from 2011 until 2018. During his tenure, he falsely claimed that he was Black on two promotional exams (he is a white Hispanic), made Islamophobic comments about a fellow officer, doxxed a private citizen, and generally embarrassed the City of Miami on the national stage with regularity while evading consequences. To date, he has 42 citizen complaints and 18 use-of-force incidents on his record.
In 2014, a number of senior FOP members attempted to impeach Ortiz out of his role as Miami lodge president, writing a letter to union leadership that accused him of behaving unethically and claiming he had bragged about his numerous Internal Affairs complaints.
"We strongly believe Sergeant Ortiz has not acted on behalf of the best interest of its members and has severely damaged the effectiveness of our union during his tenure," the letter stated. (A copy of the letter is embedded at the bottom of this story.)
Most recently, Ortiz was suspended with pay in January pending an ongoing investigation by an outside law enforcement agency, although no details about the nature of the investigation have been made public.
Nevertheless, Ortiz aims to regain power within the FOP.
Police unions began receiving increased national attention this year after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis. In many cases, union contracts allow officers with long disciplinary histories to be protected and kept on the force.
The unions also have a history of pushing back against police reform, including calls for reduced police budgets and the repeal of qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that protects officers from liability in some cases of misconduct. Miami's own police union blasted the calls for reform in June, calling them an "attack on law enforcement."
In Miami, the Fraternal Order of Police negotiates labor contracts between the Miami Police Department and the city and is influential in determining police wages, disciplinary procedures, and protections afforded to officers investigated for alleged misconduct. In his campaign video, Ortiz says he will go to bat for union members and criticizes Reyes, the current president, for not doing enough.
"I've heard too many times that when people come to the present administration, that they're told, 'Listen, we've got to pick our battles' or 'That's gonna cost too much,'" Ortiz says in the video. "My commitment to you is, if it's an issue, if it's something that we can fight, we're gonna fight it all the way. That's why you pay dues."
Ortiz is running against Reyes and Lt. Ramon Carr, who currently serves as vice president of the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association (MCPBA), the union that represents Black officers.
Reyes tells New Times that Ortiz should not be running for president given his laundry list of public incidents and proclivity for controversy.
"I don't think he's a good representation of our membership. He has soiled his name and the name of the FOP with his antics and his grabs at attention," Reyes maintains. "This wouldn't be newsworthy if it didn't involve him."
Although Ortiz is under suspension, Reyes says Ortiz remains a member in good standing with the union, which means he has the right to run for office.
Ortiz did not respond to emails or phone calls from New Times.
The FOP will hold its election during the week of December 6. Reyes says the winners will be announced by December 12.
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