Shortly after I was arrested for photographing Miami police against their wishes in February 2007, the president of the South Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists filed a complaint with the Miami Civilian Investigative Panel, which is supposedly an independent panel of civilian investigators that oversees police misconduct.
But months went by and we never heard anything from them.
It turns out, there is a 120-day statute of limitations to investigate these cases. And it turns out, they ignored my case for much longer than that.
And now it appears they did it on purpose.
My case wasn’t the only one they ignored, according to former CIP chief investigator Steve Wolf, who was recently laid off and replaced with the former CIP executive director, Shirley Richardson, a woman who had been fired in January for incompetence, only to be reinstated by City Manager Pete Hernandez (politics as usual in Miami).
In a scathing 15-page letter delivered to Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and the City Commission earlier this month, Wolf describes an environment of nepotism, inflated salaries, lackluster performance, hindrance of investigations and conflict of interests.
He had raised these concerns to city officials months earlier but ended up getting ignored and eventually fired. He has since retained an attorney and has filed a whistleblowers claim against the city.
In his letter to the mayor and commission, Wolf said Richardson, along with the CIP’s lawyer Charles Mays, “intentionally thwarted and hindered investigative staff from conducting investigations and in my view all three have inappropriately exercised their authority to minimize the number of negative findings of misconduct against Miami police officers.”
He also said Mays, a former assistant city attorney, would hide case files to prevent them for being investigated.
Wolf, who was hired about a month after my complaint had been filed, came across my case about a year later – when it was already too late because of the statute of limitations.
But he contacted me anyway and I ended up visiting with him in his office. We spoke for about an hour and I found him to be sincere man who really wanted to make a difference; an ex-cop who did not appreciate bad cops.
But I also realized he was caught up in a bureaucratic entanglement that did not allow any progress.
I also spoke to another investigator named Shewanda Hall who had been working there since my complaint had been filed, asking her why in the world did they ignore it.
And she told me that they had tried to investigate it but they were unable to find any contact info on me or the SPJ president, even though our names, numbers and emails were on the complaint.
I even told her all she had to do was Google “Carlos Miller” and she said, “do you know how many Carlos Millers there are on the internet?”
But there is only one who has been arrested for taking photos of cops in Miami.
She also referred to a blog post I had written in January 2008 where she said it didn’t appear that I wanted the CIP to look into my case. Of course that was well past the statute of limitations, so it really didn’t matter anyway.
At the time I wrote that post, I had already determined the CIP was ineffective about doing anything, especially the way they handled the case of Miami Police Chief John Timoney, who was being investigated for accepting a free Lexus SUV.
As it turns out, I was right on the money when I wrote, “perhaps we need to create a civilian’s investigative panel to investigate the Civilian Investigative Panel.”