• The force has had 12 police chiefs (and 10 city managers) in 20 years. Its current chief, Cheryl Cason, was disciplined at least 22 times in an eight-year period before she rose to that lofty position. She tested positive for cocaine twice and nearly had her police certification revoked by the FDLE.
• Last year alone, there were 41 internal affairs investigations on the 58-member force. Ten police officers have either been fired or forced to resign. Many of them were found to have been discharged from other departments for wrongdoing, had criminal records or lied on their job applications.
• City jobs, including police officer positions, are often engineered by city commissioners. Mayor Myra Taylors son, Johane, was hired by the department despite having a criminal record for domestic battery. Commissioner Gail Millers daughter, Tamika Miller, the departments former crime analyst, on probation for carrying a concealed firearm, who, while working later in code enforcement, allegedly pulled a gun on a woman in a beauty salon. Shes still on the job.
• The citys crime rate remains among the highest in the state for cities of its size. FDLE in 2004 said Opa-locka should turn over its policing to Miami-Dade because the department was incapable of providing even basic services to protect its citizens.
• One of its veteran officers, Sgt. German G.B. Bosque, has been portrayed in news articles as the worst officer in Florida, having had more complaints filed against him than any other cop in the state.
• The departments new deputy chief, Antonio Sanchez, who was hired in January to clean up the force, has his own checkered history of internal affairs complaints with other departments.
After Patterson ordered the confidential inquiry into many of these matters and received the litany of complaints, he turned the findings over to FDLE to investigate. At about the same time, participants in the inquiry including four sworn police officers filed a whistleblower suit in federal court. Over the past several months, they have given sworn depositions against city commissioners, the police chief and the chairman of the citys powerful Civil Service Board, which has a say in who gets hired in the city.
Among the allegations: A police major and former deputy police chief claim that Chief Cason ordered Maj. Vincent Robinson, a 15-year-veteran, to fix a ticket that had been issued to a relative of John Riley, a former mayor and commissioner who heads the citys Civil Service Board. Robinson and former deputy police chief Adam Burden said that Cason called them into her office and berated Robinson for failing to take care of the ticket. They said she was clearly angry, swearing at Robinson before ordering him to pay a portion of the ticket. Robinson said he feared for his job, so he withdrew $100 from his own account and drove to Rileys home.
He said he handed Riley the cash and that Riley said Thank you, and shut the door in his face.
Both Riley and Cason categorically denied the incident ever happened.
Not only does it not make sense, but I have no knowledge of any member of my family receiving a ticket in Opa-locka, Riley said.
Cason said the plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit have serious credibility issues and the officers, she said, have blemished records from previous departments where they were employed.