Opa-locka Police Sue City, Which They Allege is Run Like a Dictatorship (Complete Text of Suit Included)

Following Riptide's disclosure of a review that cited massive corruption in the Opa-locka police force -- including sex with prisoners before releasing them -- four employees have sued the city in federal court alleging they suffered retribution for being interviewed.

A civilian crime analyst, Tamika Miller, and four present and former police officers -- Adam Burden, Larry Riley, Vincent Robinson and Tara Lazier -- claim they were told their comments would be anonymous, said attorney Alex Pearlberg, who filed the complaint (which is posted in its entirety after the jump.)

"Then whoever in the human affairs department conducted the interview turned around and told the police chief," Pearlberg says."That is basically how they knew who was involved."

According to the complaint, which was filed Friday and demands hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city, Opa-locka was run like a kind of dictatorship, where blowing the whistle on the chief or improper practices were punished by firing or exile to night duty.

Part of the problem, says Peralstein, is that police chief Cheryl Cason is affiliated with former Mayor John Riley. "The chief knows everything that happens there," Pearlstein says. "So what she says, goes. He suggests what happens and then it happens."

The complaint alleges that Miller was sent to a remote office without a telephone. Burden and Riley were both fired. Robinson, who had worked for the department for more than 15 years, was assigned to night duty.

The city had no immediate comment on the complaint. City manager Clarance Patterson, who is named in the suit, recently announced that he would be retiring later this year.


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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse