Bad Day For Miami Beach Cops: ACLU Lawsuit, Contract Fights, Accusations

Categories: The Judge

Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega certainly picked a terrible day to leave the Beach for an out-of-state conference.

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First came a fiery meeting with the City Commission, when the police union decried plans to force them to help make up a city budget deficit.

Then, lost amidst the sound and fury of 100-plus officers yelling at the commission was a serious charge leveled at Chief Carlos Noriega.

If that wasn't enough, the ACLU of Florida announced that it's filing a lawsuit against the Beach police on charges that officers have been harassing gay men near Flamingo Park.

What a day.

The fun started around 10 a.m. in the City Commission chambers when hundreds of officers stared down the commission before an executive session to talk about their contract. (Watch the video here.)

Then, in his parting shot from the dais, Mark Richard, the Fraternal Order of Police's attorney, accused Noriega of routinely forcing officers to work mandatory overtime protecting private clubs and events.

"That's an inditement!" Richard shouted on his way out.

This morning, Noriega responded to the charges -- sort of.

If you can make any sense of this statement, please help Riptide out:

In response to the FOP Attorney's comments at this morning's City Commission meeting regarding the City using overtime personnel to work off-duty jobs, it should be noted that the Police Department has NOT used any such resources to cover off-duty work that is considered to be of a routine (temporary or permanent) nature. Instead, since the inception of the boycott, the only use of overtime personnel to cover jobs which may be considered off-duty has involved some recent and upcoming special events (i.e. ING Marathon, Pro Bowl, and Super Bowl). However, this is a practice that has been used in the past during other special event periods, where enhanced staffing plans have been implemented.

A simple, "I am not a crook!" would have sufficed, chief. And added a lot of clarity to this disptue.

Either way, the Beach police's bad day didn't end with a firey contract dispute at City Hall or a vague charge of malfeasance from the union lawyer.

Hours after the City Commission meeting, the ACLU of Florida announced a pending lawsuit against two Beach cops for allegedly abusing gay men near Flamingo Park.

The ACLU's suit charges that in March 2009, two Miami Beach officers arrested Harold Strickland, a gay resident, after he called 911 to report that the officers were beating another gay man near the park.

The legal group says the arrests are part of a larger pattern of cops harassing gay men on the Beach.

"Gay men have been reportedly targeted by Miami Beach police near Flamingo Park for decades. Often, police target gay men walking near Flamingo Park for nothing more than looking 'too gay'," Robert Rosenwald, Director of the ACLU of Florida's LGBT Advocacy Project, says in a statement.

Beach officials say they can't comment on pending lawsuits.

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