Lt. Jesus Aguiar of the South Miami Police Department will take a reduction in duties and pay after reports of alleged harassment and other questionable incidents became public last month, Police Chief Rene Landa said during a city commission meeting Tuesday night.
Landa spoke before the commission along with City Manager Steven Alexander to address Aguiar’s record. Aguiar will take a “voluntary” 5 percent pay reduction and has been assigned to an administrative position, Landa said. He had previously led the Criminal Investigations Unit.
“He will not be supervising any subordinates,” Landa said. “He will not be involved in any kinds of special programs.” Aguiar had supervised the department’s Explorers program for high-schoolers interested in law enforcement.
The Miami Herald reported that Aguiar’s internal affairs file showed the lieutenant was promoted rapidly despite several complaints and sanctions. The file detailed allegations that he had pepper-sprayed and handcuffed an ex-girlfriend at her office, and said he had been disciplined for sexually harassing a dispatcher in the department and misusing a police database to follow a woman home.
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Landa stressed that Aguiar is an officer with a history of several dozen commendations but said the lieutenant understood a “display of contrition” was needed.
Alexander, who reviewed Aguiar’s file with Landa after the reports became public, said Aguiar’s promotion to lieutenant would also be reviewed. The action was not intended to be punitive but rather “a reflection of a process that may not have been complied with fully,” he said.
Additionally — addressing concerns in Aguiar’s case — the manager recommended other changes. These include modifying the police promotion process and a revision to policy “to prohibit any person from possessing the badge of an officer.” The most recent item in Aguiar’s file involved his girlfriend, who is not a police officer, flashing a badge during a dispute at a Cheesecake Factory.
Landa and Alexander also addressed an officer-involved shooting in mid-November, which is currently being investigated by the Miami-Dade Police Department. That incident didn’t involve Aguiar.
Further addressing the police department, Alexander recommended having police officers wear body cameras while on patrol, which was met with scattered applause during the meeting.
Alexander’s actions were limited by the fact that “certain state laws and union agreements prevent the current administration from revisiting decisions made in the past by former city managers, and police chiefs,” his report said.