History Always Repeats Itself | Not a damn thing has changed in Florida for the better with Crooked Cops in over the last 25 Years and things have only gotten worse with today’s corrupt police officers!
By JON NORDHEIMER, Special to the New York Times
Published: August 3, 1986
MIAMI, Aug. 2— Each passing week seems to bring another new drug-related charge against some local police officer as the rising tide of cocaine smuggling exposes more and more officers to bribes and payoffs.
”It’s not unusual for a patrol officer to stop a car in Miami on a routine traffic violation and find the guy has $20,000 or more in cash on him,” said one high-ranking law-enforcement official here. ”With some cops, sooner or later they’re going to take the money, one way or another. And that’s just the beginning. It’s hard to stop after that.”
The beleaguered Miami Police Department, with more than a dozen officers facing charges ranging from drug dealing to murder, is the focus of an inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into drug-related corruption. Twenty-five other police officers, some of them of high rank, have been subpoenaed as witnesses or as targets of the investigation.
Police Chief Clarence Dickson, named 18 months ago to head the 1,033-member force, has been criticized from inside and outside the department as a weak commander. Last month he put out a statement saying he had no intention of resigning. A Question of Confidence
While the temptation is greater in Miami than in most American cities because of the great volume of cocaine smuggled into south Florida from Latin America, the epidemic of police corruption is not seen as a purely local problem. Experts expect increased corruption to unfold in other cities with the rise in consumption of crack, a cheap and powerful cocaine derivative.
”The profits from cocaine are unreal,” said a law-enforcement official close to the Miami investigations. ”It’s way bigger than Prohibition.”
Police officials stoutly comment in public that police morale has not been damaged, but continuing news coverage of the investigations and some allegations that off-duty officers’ break into suburban homes or commit daylight robberies of drug dealers have taken their toll in public confidence.
This week, Manual Pardo Jr., a former policeman in the suburb of Sweetwater who is already facing seven counts of murder in connection with narcotics ripoffs, was named by an informer in an affadavit unsealed in court in connection with the killing of two women in their Hialeah apartment.
Some frightened homeowners have telephoned police headquarters asking for verification when an officer has appeared on the doorstep on a routine matter.
”The public tends to generalize when it comes to the police,” said Steve Bertucelli, director of the Sheriff’s Office in Broward County, which embraces Fort Lauderdale. ”Unfortunately, the reality is that the corruption exists and that too many officers are being compromised.” ‘The Greed Is There’
Last month Mr. Bertucelli’s undercover officers arrested Cynthia D. Oliver, an officer in the Miami suburb of Davie on charges of selling cocaine.
A few days earlier the Miami police charged one of their own officers with stealing a bankroll from a narcotics suspect who was an undercover agent.
”These are not going to be the last cases,” said Mr. Bertucelli. ”The money is there and the greed is there.”
Another staff officer said he was alarmed by the ease with which some officers apparently went from taking bribes or payoffs to using strongarm methods against drug dealers.
”The frightening thing is they think they’re taking money away from some dirtbag who is committing a felony, so who should care?” the officer said. Cocaine Thefts Cited
In its investigation of the Miami Police Department, the F.B.I. is pursuing ”allegations of obstruction of justice, bribery, racketeering, robbery, theft, homicide, narcotics trafficking, perjury, extortion and gambling-related offenses by present and former members,” according to a document filed recently in Federal District Court here.
The department was rocked last winter by charges brought against five officers and a former officer that ranged from cocaine trafficking to murder. Earlier the department was victimized by the theft of large amounts of cocaine held as evidence and $150,000 in cash taken from a safe in the office of the special investigations squad, a handpicked vice and intelligence unit.
”There were 30 people who had the combination to that safe,” said one officer. ”Anyone could’ve walked off with it.”
Even though it is acknowledged that only a fraction of the cocaine smuggled into Florida is intercepted, the storage of stockpiles of the seized drug is a security nightmare. More than 75 percent of all cocaine seizures in the United States take place in south Florida. ”Storage costs run very high because you have to guard it like Fort Knox,” said a Federal official. Protest by the Hispanic
Many of those under subpoena in the Federal inquiry here have Hispanic surnames, and this has created some complaints in the city’s large Spanish-speaking community that the investigation is biased.
Postcards to be mailed to President Reagan have been circulated recently. They say that the investigation ”has only been directed against high-ranking Cuban officers.”
To others, however, the arrests of Hispanic officers raises questions about the push to hire members of minority groups after 1980 when an influx of 100,000 Cuban refugees coincided with an extended outbreak of violence in black neighborhoods.