Miami Beach

Miami Beach police now requiring employees to report inappropriate emails

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine hold a news conference regarding inappropriate emails by the Miami Beach Police Department on Thursday, May 14, 2015.
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine hold a news conference regarding inappropriate emails by the Miami Beach Police Department on Thursday, May 14, 2015. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Days after announcing that 16 police officers sent or received racist, misogynistic and pornographic emails within the department, Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates unveiled a new policy requiring cops to report such behavior.

The new rule compels all department employees to report improper use of the internal email system immediately to the internal affairs unit. The policy also applies to officers’ text messages, social media posts and blogs.

In a statement released Monday, Oates said the policy is meant to erase any uncertainty over what an employee’s obligation is when he or she sees inapppopriate or offensive messages.

“The obligation is to report the violation immediately. Period,” he said. “The message cannot be clearer: We will not tolerate any offensive emails, texts or social media postings in our department.”

Beach police already had a policy that prohibited the inappropriate use of department email or other digital media, but the new policy explicitly states employees with knowledge of such behavior must report it to their immediate supervisor or the internal affairs commander.

Bobby Jenkins, president of Miami Beach’s local police union, said in a statement the union supports the rule.

“This is a diverse organization that does not tolerate racism, sexism, or any type of discrimination and we do not oppose this new policy,” he said.

In a joint press conference held Thursday with Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Oates named former Maj. Angel Vazquez and former Capt. Alex Carulo as the main senders of the offensive emails. Vazquez retired last summer when he was confronted with the emails amid an internal affairs investigation. Carulo was fired before the announcement of the investigation.

At least 14 other cops who have not been named received the emails, but it is not known if any forwarded the messages. An internal affairs investigation is underway to determine if any circulated the sordid emails.

In a conversation with CBS4 reporter Jim DeFede for this week’s Facing South Florida, Oates said the culture in the department at the time may have prevented officers who saw the emails from reporting them. The emails were sent mainly between 2010 and 2012. Oates arrived in Miami Beach in June 2014.

He told DeFede that most of the officers just received the emails, and the probe will reveal if any other officers forwarded them.

“We will have a conversation and an internal affairs investigation with everyone who received one of these emails, and we will evaluate what they did or failed to do and deal with it accordingly,” he said.

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