Miami's police chief out as new mayor steps in

AP News
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Posted: Nov 11, 2009 4:52 PM

Miami's police chief, a nationally recognized leader dubbed "America's Best Cop" by Esquire magazine, stepped down as one of his critics _ the city's new mayor _ was sworn into office.

Chief John F. Timoney, who was previously top cop in Philadelphia, said he had fulfilled his mission by reducing crime and lowered officer-involved shootings.

Miami's new mayor, Tomas Regalado, said Wednesday he instructed the city manager to ask the chief to step down, saying crime was rising and officer morale was low.

"We are very happy that we are past the chief of police issue," Regalado told The Associated Press.

Timoney was chief in Philadelphia from 1998 to 2002. Before that, he rose through the ranks of the New York Police Department, eventually becoming second-in-command.

In Miami, Timoney was credited with improving a department scarred by violence and scandal _ while maintaining a high public profile. He often spoke about homeland security issues and in 2000, Esquire wrote a cover story on him titled, "America's Best Cop." In 2007, the New Yorker profiled Timoney.

Born in Dublin and raised in the Bronx, Timoney's tenure in Miami began in 2003 as 11 Miami police officers went to trial on federal charges of fabricating evidence and planting guns at crime scenes. His task was to clean up the department, especially officer-involved shootings.

Under Timoney, the police department dramatically lowered officer-involved shootings, at one point going 18 months without an incident.

"When he came to Miami, he was precisely what the department needed," said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Miami office. "He was somebody who came in from the outside to set a different tone."

But Timoney's record on civil liberties was questioned in November 2003. During protests at the Free Trade Area of the Americas conference, 146 people were arrested and at least seven lawsuits were filed against the city.

Protesters said officers overreacted, using rubber bullets, batons, tear gas and concussion grenades against them; Timoney called his crowd-control tactics "the Miami Model" and said he wanted to avoid the mayhem during similar anti-trade protests in Seattle.

Timoney also rankled some in 2007, when it was discovered that he drove _ yet failed to disclose receipt of _ a Lexus SUV from a local auto dealer.