“I can’t get into the legal issues on why, but I needed to have someone in place immediately,” he said.
Baker’s thoughts on the burglarized vehicles: “It’s obvious we have our work cut out for us here in the city of Opa-locka.”
It’s not clear whether the city planned to keep Deputy Chief Antonio Sanchez, who came under fire shortly after he was hired in January 2012. Miami-Dade’s Police Benevolent Association had targeted Sanchez because he had been trying to root out some of the department’s bad cops.
Among them was German “G.B.” Bosque, a veteran police officer who has the worst complaint record of any police officer in the state. During his 20-year-career, he has been fired at least five times for incidents ranging from bungled investigations to complaints about excessive force, ignoring direct orders and keeping crucial evidence in the trunk of his patrol car.
Another Opa-locka police officer, Arthur Balom, has been jailed since being caught in a federal drug sting.
For years, Opa-locka’s police force has been ridiculed as the place where almost any cop, even one with a criminal past, could get hired.
Key acknowledged Wednesday that when he went to North Miami from Opa-locka he was mocked by fellow officers for coming from a department with such a bad reputation.
“Opa-locka is not the same place I left 20 years ago,’’ Key said. “It has progressed.’’
Key declined to say if he still planned to hire Cruz.
According to records obtained by The Herald, Cruz has a voluminous internal affairs file. Among the complaints: that he super-imposed fellow officers’ faces onto gay pornographic photographs and distributing them in the police department — an allegation that as dropped; conduct unbecoming of an officer for making derogatory comments about an officer’s wife; and disparaging fellow officers.
Key called Cruz “a viable candidate” for the deputy post.
On the effort to continue reform of the department, he said: “Everything has to be assessed.’’
Miami Herald staff writer Nadege Green contributed to this story.