Sleeping Hialeah cop’s penalty: a day off without pay

This photo of a Hialeah police officer, who appears to be sleeping, was posted on Facebook.
This photo of a Hialeah police officer, who appears to be sleeping, was posted on Facebook.
Mayra Rodriguez

Special to the Miami Herald

When eagle-eyed Mayra Rodriguez spotted a Hialeah cop sound asleep in his squad car, she snapped two photos with her cellphone and posted them on Facebook.

“Hello? This is our tax dollars,” said Rodriguez, 55, of Hialeah.

The photo of Officer Francisco Hernandez snoozing on duty zipped around the social media universe until it landed on the screen of Hialeah Police Cmdr. Luis Lahera.

Lahera said he saw the photos after a Facebook friends posted them on his page, according to an internal affairs report obtained July 30. Lahera then “deleted the photographs and notified the chief of police immediately.”

Chief Sergio Velasquez launched an investigation that involved a bevy of personnel and reams of sworn testimony by three civilian witnesses and six police officers.

Hernandez was investigated for “improper procedure” for his action, or inaction, while he slept in his parked cruiser near a Hialeah strip mall on Feb. 14, 2013, where he was working an “extra duty assignment.”

Hernandez, who was represented by a Police Benevolent Association attorney, denied being asleep.

The city made the records available under Florida’s public-records law. The incident is no longer deemed an “active investigation.”

Rodriguez, who took the photos, told internal affairs investigators that “she could tell the officer was sleeping because he had his head back and his eyes were closed,” the report states. She was irked that Hernandez did so “with the air conditioning on,” and added that “she saw this same officer sleeping in his car once before.”

The eight-week investigation included 22 “official records” documenting what took place, including police photos of the parking lot at the 41st Street shopping plaza.

The evidence, including 25 “findings of facts,” was sent to Chief Velasquez, who ruled that Hernandez violated the agency's extra-duty detail rule by working while on sick leave, as well as being inattentive to duty.

The penalty: Hernandez received a 10-hour suspension, or one day off, without pay.

Velasquez did not return calls from the Miami Herald seeking comment.

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