The Miccosukee Tribe has once again fired its police chief, this time booting Bobby Richardson after just one year on the job.
Richardson got the afternoon phone call Wednesday afternoon as he was driving home.
“No just cause. They did it over the phone,” he said Thursday. “Didn’t even see it coming.”
Richardson, a former police chief in South Miami, was the latest in a slew of firings at the troubled department for the West Miami-Dade tribe, which runs a profitable gambling resort off Tamiami Trail and Krome Avenue.
Calls to the tribe were unsuccessful Thursday.
The tribe has had a spate of bad press in recent years. The firing comes amid the tribe’s legal woes: federal courts have ordered the Miccosukees to turn over financial records on gambling proceeds for which the tribe is believed to owe millions in taxes.
The woes at the Police Department stretch back years.
In 2007, the Miccosukees fired police chief David Ward, who later said he believed he was terminated because he charged then-chairman Billy Cypress in tribal court with drunken driving.
In 2010, the tribe fired police chief Thomas Loughren for unexplained reasons.
In August 2011, the department fired its interim chief, plus seven officers, after the rank-and-file signed a petition protesting the behavior of one sergeant.
The department has come under scrutiny in recent years over jurisdictional squabbles.
Miccosukee Police, a state-certified police agency, frequently applies state law to arrest non-Indians near the reservation, yet refers Indians who are charged to their private tribal court that is closed to non-Indians.
Three years ago, Miami-Dade prosecutors ripped the department’s handling of a January 2009 auto wreck on Tamiami Trial involving tribe members and a Kendall woman, who died.
The police department, citing the tribe’s sovereign status, at first refused to turn over to prosecutors reports and photos from the crash scene, even though it happened four miles west of Krome Avenue on a state road, well away from the tribe’s federally protected reservation.
In the past year, Richardson said, he thought he was moving the department in the right direction.
But the tribe’s business council refused to add incentives to keep officers from leaving the department, including a take-home car program.
“We were moving the department forward,” Richardson said. “All my guys appeared to like me.”
The department now had just 28 officers, leaving 12 slots unfilled, Richardson said.