Columns

Surfside Cop Should Have Lost His Badge a Long Time Ago

Woodward Brooks finally lost his badge for his bad cop

behavior. This past February 3, the 46-year-old lawman was kicked off the

Surfside Police force following his arrest on three felony counts of official

misconduct, grand theft, and filing a fraudulent insurance claim.

This is the

second time the tiny beachfront town has cut ties with Brooks (who declined to

comment) over allegations he abused his authority.

In 2006, a year after he joined

the Surfside PD, Miami-Dade Police public corruption detectives investigated an

allegation that Brooks and another cop had hatched a plot to plant cocaine on a

town activist and falsely arrested Commissioner Howard Weinberg for driving under

the influence. The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office closed the probe without action,

citing insufficient evidence.

But an

internal administrative investigation by Surfside concluded Brooks had failed

to report the alleged crime to his superiors, and he was fired.

In an email, Surfside Police

Chief David Allen says the town was forced to rehire Brooks in 2007 when an

arbitrator ruled he was wrongfully terminated. So much for second chances.


Last July 13, Brooks allegedly responded to the scene of a three-car collision at the intersection of Collins Avenue and 90th Street. He wrote an accident report, which the drivers and a passenger used to file an insurance claim for $23,762. Turns out the crash was staged, according to Brooks's arrest affidavit.

A witness told investigators from the fraud division of the state's Department of Financial Services that Brooks agreed to write the report for the fake insurance claim. Detectives also tape-recorded a conversation in which Brooks "acknowledged his involvement in creating the fictitious crash report." This past October 19, in a sworn statement, Brooks admitted to doctoring two accident reports.

Chief Allen says he wasn't surprised Brooks got into trouble again: "It was only a matter of time."

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.