Two men impersonating police officers tried to pull over the wrong guy Wednesday: Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez — a former decorated Miami-Dade cop.
The men were taken into custody after Martinez said he became suspicious of the vehicle’s flashing lights, refused to pull over, then flagged down a squad car he was passing on the highway.
“He picked the wrong guy,” the commissioner said. “I’m glad it was me.”
Late Wednesday, police announced the arrest of Franklin Dixon-Lozano, 27. He was charged with falsely impersonating an officer and possession of a firearm while committing an offense. The other man was released without being charged, police said. No other details were immediately available.
Martinez confirmed the incident during a committee meeting at County Hall Wednesday, but offered few immediate details. At one point he left the meeting to speak with senior county police staff who were there for an unrelated issue.
The commissioner said he was driving north on Florida’s Turnpike with some commission aides just before 11:30 a.m., when a Toyota 4Runner SUV pulled up behind him with red lights flashing from the truck’s front grille.
Martinez said when he shifted lanes, the SUV mirrored his move. But after spotting a temporary tag on the vehicle, Martinez said he became suspicious. Besides, the commissioner said, the SUV looked a bit too “spiffy” to be a police vehicle.
“I thought, that’s weird. Well, they must have better undercover cars than they did when I was undercover,” he said.
When the driver in the SUV finally gave up trying to pull over Martinez, he changed lanes and tired to pass the commissioner, Martinez said. But Martinez said he stuck with the vehicle and eventually flagged down an officer in a squad car on the roadside, who radioed for help.
Martinez, 61, said he was there when the driver was pulled over on State Road 836 near Northwest 45th Avenue. The driver, he said, wasn’t wearing a police uniform and he had a firearm.
Martinez, a two-time chairman of the commission, was a Miami-Dade officer for 16 years. He worked his way through the ranks, receiving more than 70 commendations along the way, including two gold medals of valor and twice being named Officer of the Year. He was first elected in 2000 to a County Commission seat for District 11.
He ran for mayor in 2012 and lost to Carlos Gimenez. He’s considered a potential candidate for Miami-Dade sheriff in 2024.