Paul Philip Thinks Miami Police's Shooting Streak Is A-OK

When City Manager Tony Crapp Jr. hired Paul Philip to "audit" the Miami Police Department, we assumed the ex-G-man's job was to write a bad report so Crapp could fire embattled Chief Miguel Exposito. So what the hell is Philip doing in the New York Times today justifying the string of police shootings by Exposito's cops?

Philip's stance is even stranger considering his logic boils down to this: Don't blame Expo's cops for being better shots than ex-Chief John Timony's boys!

Here's what Philip told Times reporter Don Van Natta Jr:

Mr. Philip, who headed the F.B.I.'s Miami field office, said in an interview that he compared the number of police shootings in 2009, the last year of Mr. Timoney's leadership, with the first 15 months of Chief Exposito's tenure. During Mr. Timoney's final year as chief, seven officers shot at suspects, killing four and missing three others. Under Chief Exposito, there have been 10 shootings, with seven fatalities.

"It seemed to be a concern that the department was engaged in an accelerated rate of shootings, but there doesn't appear to be," Mr. Philip said. "The data seems to support the chief."
There are a few logical fallacies at work here. First, most critics look at the entirety of Timony's tenure -- including a 22 month stretch without a single officer firing a single weapon.

That's a stark contrast to the first 15 months of Exposito's term, when 10 officers have fired shots at suspects and seven people have been killed. (All black men in mostly black neighborhoods, incidentally.)

Second, Philip suggests that not much has changed under Exposito, statistically speaking, since seven shots were fired during Timoney's last year and a half on the job.

But Exposito's boys have killed seven people in that time. Only four died on Timoney's watch. Are we supposed to congratulate Expo that his cops have been better shots?

There's also the elephant in the room: The culture under the two chiefs, which -- as Van Natta points out to start his story -- is illustrated to a T by the leaked trailer for a reality show first reported on by New Times.

When a chief calls his cops "predators" and then justifies their swaggering claim that they're out to "hunt," how can we view the rash of shootings that follows as anything but a reflection of Exposito's way of doing business?

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink