Miami Beach

Miami Beach cops can work off-duty at nightclubs again — but no refreshments inside

Miami Beach police officers who want to work off-duty details at nightclubs must now receive proper training, rotate shifts every two or three hours, and stay outside unless law-enforcement action is necessary.

The new rules set in motion last week by Police Chief Daniel Oates come on the heels of the July suspension of Sgt. Mike Muley, who appeared to observers to be drunk while working an off-duty detail at Mango’s Tropical Cafe on Ocean Drive.

Oates then immediately put a halt to officers working the lucrative off-duty shifts at any of the Beach’s popular nightclubs.

“If that resolves the issue of perception, then we’re fine with it,” said Fraternal Order of Police President Alex Bello.

The new rules, which are in line with how Miami police work off-duty shifts in the late-night entertainment district, also call for businesses that want to hire officers to pay into a fund coordinated by the Ocean Drive Business Association. The business group would then pay the city, which would pay the officer.

The Miami-Dade County Police Department no longer allows its officers to do off-duty work anywhere alcohol is served.

Anyone working a Miami Beach off-duty detail must now inform dispatch over the radio why they are entering a club, a supervisor must respond, and a marked police vehicle must be visible outside. At the end of each shift, a full report on the night’s activities must be written. Police can no longer eat or drink at a club where they are working.

Cops working off-duty shifts in Miami Beach have mostly filled jobs at Ocean Drive clubs including Wet Willie’s, Mango’s and the Clevelander. The bigger clubs on Washington Avenue use their own, private security.

Michael Slyder, chief financial officer of the Miami dance club Mekka, said last month that the separation of nightclub owners and police officers creates a better atmosphere for club-goers.

Police officers’ “main task is to assist nightclubs and their issues,” Slyder said.

Oates’ original decision to halt off-duty work drew condemnation from some quarters, especially the city’s police union, which argued the move would be costly to the city and drain neighborhoods of police officers who would be forced to respond to thousands of calls a year from the clubs.

It came a month after an outside audit of the department recommended that the city change the way it handles off-duty police work because officers could develop allegiance to a secondary employer, “and choose to ignore their sworn duty in order to protect a source of steady, supplemental income.”

The report said Miami Beach officers work up to 85,000 hours of secondary employment a year and earn, on average, about $45 an hour. Though some of the income bolsters future pensions, $10 of each hour’s wage also bolsters the city’s coffers.

The off-duty moves, first reported by the Random Pixels blog, are also part of an effort by Oates to clean up his embattled department, which has suffered a series of embarrassing and critical flaps over the past few years.

Muley’s paid leave marked at least the fourth time in three years that a Beach officer had been accused of being drunk while on duty. The city also is still dealing with the unresolved shooting death of Raymond Herisse on Memorial Day 2011. He was shot 16 times while sitting in his car on Collins Avenue. Days later, police claimed they found a weapon wrapped in a towel hidden in the car.

Later that summer, an officer taking a bride-to-be on an ATV joyride on the beach in the middle of the night — while he was on duty — accidentally ran over two tourists, injuring them badly. Officer Derek Kuilan was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Muley, a sergeant on duty that night, was suspended, but later regained his stripes.

Muley remains suspended with pay after the latest incident. Police declined to comment on his possible reinstatement.