Police departments have created civilian panels in an effort to be transparent.  But have they high jacked the system again?

Miami, Florida Police Headquarters

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Civilian Review Boards have become a popular way for police departments to appear transparent.  And from the outside, it makes them look like they are trying.  But who sits on the boards makes all the difference.

Miami, Florida Mayor Tomás Pedro Regalado

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According to the Miami, Florida city code, the Mayor and five commissioners can each nominate two civilians.  The 13 slot is saved for the police chief’s nomination.

Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes

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While the Mayor and Commissioner’s nominations must be civilians, the police chief is allowed to nominate anyone he chooses.

Former Miami Police Sergeant William Scarola

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With a multitude of civilians to choose from, Chief Llanes chose a former Sergeant and Treasurer of the Miami Police Union.  His connection with the union has some questioning his ability to serve impartially.

City of Miami Uniform Badge

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Part of the problem with Scarola being selected is his own record as a police officer.  In his 35 year career, he faced 19 citizen complaints, six use-of-force allegations and was charged with misdemeanor battery.

Pembroke Pines, Florida

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The misdemeanor battery charge came from an incident when the off-duty officer allegedly cut in front of a special agent for the U.S. Postal Service’s inspector general then pushed him to the ground.  Criminal charges were dropped although Internal Affairs found that he violated the police department’s policy.

Miami Office of Internal Affairs

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The Miami Citizen’s Investigative Panel (CIP) was started in 2002.  They have already been criticized for clearing officers and their conduct too quickly.

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And with the addition of William Scarola, his loyalty to the police officers has already been felt.  What is to be expected from an ex-Sergeant and former Treasurer of the police union?

Miami Police Union President Lt. Javier Ortiz

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Recently a case went before the board regarding an incident involving the outspoken President of the Miami Police Union, Lt. Javier Ortiz.  Ortiz had stated that he had “no regrets” for posting a woman’s photo and personal information on his Facebook page asking his followers to harass her.

The Miami Police Civilian Investigative Panel

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While most of the panel agreed that Lt. Ortiz’s actions were questionable and reflected poorly on the police department, Lt. Ortiz had one person who defended him.  Former police sergeant and union treasurer, William Scarola.  That wasn’t a surprise, given that both Ortiz and Scarola both served on the department at the same time.

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