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Miami Police Chief Manny Morales Reverses Art Acevedo’s Firings, Demotions

After Miami Police Department (MPD) Chief Art Acevedo was ousted last October, the new interim chief, Manny Morales, seemed to represent everything his predecessor wasn’t. Unlike Acevedo, a California import via the Lone Star State, Morales is an insider, part of the old guard, and handpicked by the Miami City Commission. In fact, at Morales’ swearing-in ceremony, Commissioner Joe Carollo giddily cued up the theme from The Godfather on his phone, an unsubtle nod to Acevedo’s fateful quip that the department was run by the “Cuban Mafia.”

In his short tenure, Acevedo drew the scorn of the commission and some members of the police department with his drastic plans for reform — despite the fact that his protocol-eschewing unilateral hiring by Mayor Francis Suarez ostensibly came with precisely that mandate.

Acevedo’s brief reign culminated in a melodramatic series of special public meetings in which Commissioners Carollo, Alex Diaz de la Portilla, and Manolo Reyes blasted the chief and essentially strong-armed him out of the position. Morales, a 30-year veteran of the department who previously applied for the top job, was chosen as the interim replacement even though there has been no public announcement of a national search for a permanent chief.

Over the past three months, Morales has already rolled back some of Acevedo’s biggest changes to the department. Three of them are listed below.

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Miami Police Department Deputy Chief Ronald Papier (left) and his wife, Cmdr. Nerly Papier

Ronald and Nerly Papier Reinstated

Acevedo promised to rid the department of bad cops and come down hard on rule breakers. Within weeks of his swearing-in, the former Houston chief suspended and fired Deputy Chief Ronald Papier and his wife, Cmdr. Nerly Papier following reports that Nerly Papier had damaged a police vehicle in an accident without immediately reporting it and that her spouse helped her cover up the crash. 

The high-profile dual firing sent shockwaves through the department. The Papiers maintained their innocence and fought to regain their jobs.

On Wednesday, January 12, Morales reinstated the MPD power couple in the biggest rebuke of Acevedo’s tenure to date. Both Papiers will return to the department at the rank of captain, which will represent a salary cut from their previous posts, but the city is expected to retroactively pay them since the day they were fired.

Demoted Officers Get Their Jobs Back

After stating that MPD had too many executive positions, Acevedo demoted a number of high-ranking officers, including Maj. Keandra Simmons, the city’s second-highest-ranked Black female officer.

Simmons considered the demotion to lieutenant as retaliatory in the wake of her attempts to discipline MPD Capt. Javier Ortiz. She sued Acevedo and MPD and sought whistleblower protections.

Morales reversed Acevedo’s decision last month and gave Simmons back her old position along with two other demoted majors: Jose Fernandez and Richard Perez.

Sergeant-at-Arms Brought Back to Duty

Sergeant-at-Arms Luis Camacho was assigned to Suarez’s bodyguard detail and was liked by several members of the commission. But Acevedo suspended Camacho last June after photos leaked of several sergeant-at-arms vehicles during the mayor’s weekend vacation in Key Largo. At the time, Acevedo claimed Camacho was involved in a “breach of operational security.”

Camacho’s suspension was one of the many grenades commissioners lobbed at the chief during last fall’s special public meetings. An internal affairs investigation deemed Camacho not guilty of misconduct but found that he’d abandoned his post without proper notice. Morales reinstated the officer to his post earlier this week.

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