Thursday, June 9, 2011
Carmel on the Case: Opa-Locka Problems
The Opa-Locka Police Department already the target of a criminal investigation has now been hit with a second federal lawsuit. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has the exclusive.
WSVN -- The Opa-Locka commission has a full plate. Lawsuits that name the police department and the city are flying. Just this week, five former and current members of the police department filed suit in federal court claiming violations of the Whistleblower's Act.
Alex Pearlberg: "My clients really didn't want it to come to this, but they had no choice."
Another federal lawsuit filed last month alleges discrimination and claims police officers were sent on "fishing expeditions" to pull over black motorists to make arrest quotas.
All this as the city's police department is being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for possible criminal violations.
Myra Taylor: "So what do you think of it? Now you know I can't comment on that as yet because it went to another step with the FDLE, so I'll just wait."
It appears the meltdown began after this report was issued. It makes disturbing allegations of abuses within the police department among them that officers traded sex for dropped charges, and that officers have relationships with known criminals and convicted felons in the city.
Clarance Patterson, Opa-Locka City Manager: "I'd heard that before and those are serious allegations."
Last month, city manager Clarance Patterson told me the report was based on confidential comments from members of the police department. But 7 News has learned little remained confidential.
Alex Pearlberg: "Two of my clients were terminated shortly after the report was issued."
Attorney Alex Pearlberg says both the deputy chief and the captain in charge of internal affairs were axed.
Alex Pearlberg: "And my other clients who are still employed there have been demoted, sent back out on night patrol, put in offices that don't have any essential support such a computers and telephones."
Police chief Cheryl Cason.
Carmel Cafiero: "What about the integrity of your department? It's under attack here is it not?"
Chief Cheryl Cason: "Yes, but based on investigation the facts shall prevail exactly what is going on."
Carmel Cafiero: "Can you tell me those things didn't happen?"
Chief Cheryl Cason: "With all due respect I am unable to comment due to being under investigation."
The mayor says the city is in a wait and see posture both with the criminal investigation of the police department, and the lawsuits which could cost the city a lot of money if it is found at fault.
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Read more: http://www.wsvn.com/features/articles/carmelcase/MI92150/#ixzz1OoyXkydL