Miami suspends controversial police chief

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 06, 2011 4:39 PM
Miami suspends controversial police chief

By Manuel Rueda

MIAMI (Reuters) - Miami's police chief was suspended on Tuesday and may be on the verge of losing his job following months of verbal battles with Mayor Tomas Regalado.

The city manager suspended Chief Miguel Exposito with immediate effect and named an interim head of the Miami Police Department.

Exposito, who told the Miami Herald newspaper in June that he had rejected an offer of $400,000 to resign, is expected to challenge Tuesday's suspension order later this week, according to his attorney.

But if his appeal to the city commission fails he could be fired within the coming days or weeks, in a move potentially sowing discontent among police in one of the poorest U.S. cities.

City Manager Johnny Martinez wrote to the city commission that Exposito was being suspended from his post because he disobeyed orders to slash overtime payments and because of disagreement over some of his recent personnel moves.

Exposito was appointed in 2009 with Regalado's support but he drew fire from the mayor after accusing him of interfering with police raids on video gaming parlors across the city.

The chief has also faced criticism over a recent series of fatal police shootings of seven African-American suspects.

Among other actions that embroiled him in controversy, Exposito angered local officials by allowing some of his officers to participate in the pilot for a reality TV show. In the show, the officers described themselves as "hunters" in search of suspects in Miami's toughest neighborhoods.

(Editing by Greg McCune)