Miguel Eduardo Gonzalez wanted badly to be a Miami cop.
He had already been through a background check and was in line for a polygraph test and a psychiatric evaluation. But first he had to pass the physical requirement — situps, pushups, and running short and long distances.
He tried once and failed. He tried again and failed. But it was during the third and final attempt to pass the physical-agility drill on Saturday that he failed most spectacularly — he got charged with using his driver’s license illegally and went to jail.
The reason: Gonzalez didn’t go to his third fitness test — he sent a friend to do it for him.
Police found Gonzalez sitting in a black BMW outside Moore Park in Allapattah, waiting to learn if his more-fit friend Carlos Alberto Zayas had passed the physical endurance test for him. The two had switched driver’s licenses. An alert cop at the park noticed Zayas looked nothing like Gonzalez.
Zayas was also arrested, charged with disguising himself as someone else and resisting arrest without violence.
“It’s sad, but it’s comical,” said Miami Police Maj. Delrish Moss. “If you’ve got that kind of judgment, this might not be the place for you to work.”
Switching identities wasn’t likely to work: Both men have black hair, brown eyes and are of similar age, but that’s where the similarities end. Gonzalez’s hair is bushy at the top and he’s clean-shaven, at least in his jail booking photo. Zayas has short cropped hair and several days worth of beard.
Gonzalez, 23, is five-foot-six and weighs 140 pounds. Zayas, 24, stands five-foot-11 and weighs 185 pounds.
“The problem is,” Moss said, “they don’t look alike.”
The test Gonzalez failed, and that Zayas tried to attempt, consisted of running 1.5 miles in under 13 minutes and eight seconds, doing 26 pushups in one minute, 35 situps in one minute, and running 300 meters in 62 seconds or less.
Formally, Zayas was charged with obstruction by a disguised person and resisting arrest without violence. He was released Sunday after posting a $2,000 bond. His friend Gonzalez was charged with lending his driver’s license to another person. He left jail Thursday after posting a $500 bond.
Saturday’s group of potential recruits at Moore Park, on Northwest 36th Street just west of Seventh Avenue, was weeded down from the 270 who applied to be a Miami police officer last October. Maj. Dave Magnusson, who oversees recruiting and selection, said 74 percent of applicants pass the physical agility test.
“We wish them the best, we want them to succeed,” said Magnusson. Addressing Gonzalez’s plight, the major said, “But if it starts out with something as innocuous as this, it’s only going to get worse.”
Moss said busting people trying to get into the academy has a long history. He recalled 30 years ago when he was applying to be an officer, when the guys running the tests read off a list of names, then escorted those people out of the room.
Moss said he was perplexed, and wondered why he hadn’t made the cut — until the officers returned and explained that the potential recruits who were taken outside had been busted and on their way to jail because they had outstanding arrest warrants.
“It still happens a lot,” Moss said.