Following a scandal involving 16 sworn officers over racist and sexist emails sent on city accounts, the Miami Beach Police Department has issued new policy requiring the recipients of any inappropriate emails, text messages, or social media postings to immediately report the communications to Internal Affairs.
Although a policy had been in place punishing the senders who distribute such banned content, the new directive is aimed at receivers who do not comply and notify IA. The scale of the original violations of policy and professional conduct apparently resulted in the zero tolerance stance.
Former Maj. Angel Vazquez and former Capt. Alex Carulo were responsible for sending over 200 inflammatory emails to 14 other officers from 2010 to 2012. Vazquez retired and Carulo was fired during multiple investigations. Any of the other officers who forwarded the emails could be subject to disciplinary action.
MBPD Chief Dan Oates said, “The obligation is to report the violation immediately. Period. The message cannot be clearer: We will not tolerate any offensive emails, texts or social media postings in our department.”
I am dumbfounded that not only sworn officers, but command officers would be involved in such disgraceful conduct. Because of the need to maintain public trust, law enforcement officers lose some of their First Amendment rights by virtue of the job. That said, even in the business world, employers now enforce restrictions on employees’ free speech when it is offensive or harassing.
It is unfortunate when people sink to such levels and feel their actions are without consequences. I support these policies for protecting our professionalism in today’s transparent law enforcement environment.