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May 22, 2013

Arbitrator upholds firing of Miami Beach cop who says he drank before work

The officer had argued that the city had allowed a culture of intoxicated officers.

An arbitrator has upheld the firing of a Miami Beach police officer who admitted he took shots of cranberry and vodka before heading into work, skipped roll call so no one would notice his drunkenness, and then spent an hour and 40 minutes outside of his district “relaxing,” according to his testimony.

The city fired Officer Rolando Gutierrez after he was photographed along with former officer Derick Kuilan at a bachelorette party on July 3, 2011, at the Clevelander Hotel.

Gutierrez had appealed his termination, saying that Miami Beach improperly tested him for alcohol and that the city contributed to the incident by allowing a culture of intoxicated officers on the job.

“There is no proof of this culture,” the arbitrator wrote in his decision.

Beach Fraternal Order of Police president Alex Bello said the union took issue with the alcohol test given to Gutierrez — a portable breath test which wouldn’t be admissible in court, he said.

“We expect that we get afforded the same rights as anyone else,” Bello said.

Kuilan was also fired after the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office charged him with running over two beach-goers while riding his ATV on the sand with a bachelorette in tow. Prosecutors say his blood alcohol level measured .088, above the legal limit, nearly five hours after the accident. He is awaiting trial for drunk driving and other criminal charges and has also appealed his termination, according to the Miami Beach City Attorney’s Office.

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