13 September 2012
Deputy Chief of Police
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
I am pleased to hear about your progressive ideas for the Miami Beach Police Department, including more transparency so the public can better understand the nature of crime in our community, what the Department is doing or not doing about it and why, and lend assistance when necessary. Capt. Mark Causey was advancing that transparency for Chief Martinez before you came aboard.
As you may know from my perhaps too frequent and lengthy opposition editorials, I have chided the Miami Herald for its tendency to recite a few misdeeds each time some misbehavior occurs, as if the extreme deviation from good behavior in large establishments were the norm instead of the exception, while not bothering to recite the long record of good deeds every time an officer does his duty rightly. Still, I believe there must be some room for progress since nothing is perfect.
Below you shall find a link to my White Paper on Police Department Reform, in case you have not read it. It does include a litany of complaints, so I must admit to some hypocrisy in my editorials. After all, history teaches us that there would be no human progress, or even humans, if there are no complaints.
My paper includes my recommendation for regular publication of incident-based reports, although that is not required by the FDLE, the State of Florida being one of less than five states that opted out of the FBI program. You know very well that a great deal of police activity involves incidents that are not included in the UCR index of major crimes, incidents that are often reported because of proactive police work in contrast to reactions to specific complaints from the public. You also know that the toleration of “minor” crimes fosters disrespect for law enforcement, which is conducive to the eventual rise in major index crimes. Incident-based reports are regularly published on line by such cities as Minneapolis.
I literally begged top city officials including all the commissioners for comments on my suggestions, but received nary a response, not a single one, nor did major media outlets mention it. I was not surprised by the total silence and disregard since I am not nor have I ever been a member of the small “civic circle” or the ruling elite in this beautiful small town. Public business here is a private affair, so if one is not an insider, s/he is a nobody that can be safely ignored until the number of nobodies is aggravated to such an extent that a stake is picked up by a Nobody and driven into the one eye of the sleeping Cyclop.
“Why are you screaming?” his comrades asked. “Nobody did it. Nobody put out my eye!” he cried, so they deemed him delusional, went back to their caves and slept, wherefore their sheep were stolen by the Greeks.
The ruling elite in this town, thinking that they alone ARE the City of Miami Beach, impervious to outside complaints, slept for a long time, rendering the so-called democratic-republican government reactionary. Even constructive suggestions are to this very day construed as “attacks on the city.”
I do not mean to paint everyone bad. Indeed, the issue may be unwitting bad habits rather than bad leadership. And that fault may be blamed on human nature, the tendency of power to corrupt when the electorate is so apathetic that the corruption is tolerated.
I even like several commissioners, for different reasons. I figured Commissioner Ed Tobin, given his experience as a prosecutor and his keen interest in policing, would be a good police commissioner to elect, to sit on the commission in that capacity, and to whom the top police brass would answer. I also believed he would be a good (proactive instead of reactive) city attorney.
Now the issue some people have with Mr. Tobin, and his colleagues who finally dared to advance what was perceived as reform in a single beheading instead of a massacre, was expressed in the question, “Where were you all along?”
Of course that question was put in the form of a critical statement to Samuel Tilden after the Tweed Ring busts, asserting that he advanced reform at the last minute for selfish political reasons, a statement that he disputed at length, and went on to almost take the Oval Office.
History is always a mistake to some extent, so I am looking forward to seven fat years in the near future, but not so fat that people forget the lessons of the past, some of which I am conveying to you here since you are a new kid on the block, and a welcome one at that.
David Arthur Walters
cc: Commissioner Ed Tobin
cc: City Clerk File
White Paper Miami Beach Police Department Reform