A former North Miami police commander, with a lengthy history of internal affairs investigations, is being considered for senior position in the Opa-locka Police Department for the second time this year.
Opa-locka considered Peter Cruz as a candidate for a deputy chief position earlier this year, despite being the subject of 24 disciplinary investigations in North Miami, where he retired in March after 28 years.
He is now being considered for a senior role in Opa-locka, according to David Chiverton, the assistant city manager and public information officer.
“A background check is done on all employees,” Chiverton said. “The chief is assembling his team and in doing that, as with any municipality, that process is up to the director of that department.”
Cruz’s files indicate that he was the subject of a criminal investigation for insurance fraud; that other officers accused him of harassment; and that higher-ups repeatedly admonished him to act professionally.
This spring, Opa-locka hired Cruz’s longtime friend and colleague from North Miami, Jeffrey Key, as police chief. Cruz was considered for deputy chief but the city ended up hiring someone else.
At the time, he said the most serious charge in the file, a 2001 allegation of insurance fraud that was sustained by internal affairs but never filed by prosecutors, was based on administrative errors.
And the city never took administrative action against him. Cruz said that was because the insurance claim in question was legitimate, and the errors were made administratively in the police department’s processing of the claim.
Among the other cases, Cruz was accused of refusing to assist an officer he supervised during a burglary call. Instead, an internal affairs investigator found, "Cruz responded by verbally insulting the officer for asking a question."
The investigator wrote that Cruz displayed "conduct unbecoming by making derogatory remarks of other officers and refusing to provide supervisory assistance to personnel."
For his conduct, Cruz was suspended for a day and ordered to receive remedial training in supervising, diversity and communications.
Chiverton said a full background investigation will be conducted on Cruz.
“My understanding is he retired from the [North Miami] department and it wasn’t a forced retirement,” Chiverton said. “As a result of this, it’s not a for me as a PIO to say what his past may be.”
Chiverton declined to discuss what the department found when considering Cruz for deputy chief.
“You’re asking me what is the status of what we feel about his background, that will come to bear if it is factor,” Chiverton said. “It may be all unfounded.”