December 15, 2019
Probe finds Miami Police union official abused off-duty jobs. He calls it a ‘witch hunt’
 
 
By David Ovalle
 

A civilian police watchdog agency says a high-profile Miami Police captain violated department policies by working too many hours on off-duty security jobs and posted “derogatory language and images” on his social-media accounts.

Staff with Miami’s Civilian Investigative Panel, in a report released last week, sustained allegations against Capt. Javier Ortiz, who is also the district director of the Florida Fraternal Order of Police and is known for his incendiary rhetoric and zealous support of police officers.

The report also included a spreadsheet that listed years’ worth of Ortiz’s off-duty jobs through Miami Police. In one example, the investigation alleged that Ortiz billed 27.5 hours in one day for working security at Miami’s Calle Ocho parade in March 2018.

In a statement Friday, Ortiz said the CIP is using taxpayer dollars on a long “witch hunt” that has resulted in no discipline. 

“If their allegations were true, rest assured that the authorities would’ve taken me into custody. As FOP District Director, I will continue to fight for our members,” he said. “Their spreadsheet is wrong. Their investigation is botched.”

Ortiz has often sparred publicly with the CIP, which does not have power to punish officers but offers discipline recommendations to Miami’s police chief. The CIP, created through a 2001 voter referendum amid years of corruption within the Miami Police Department, lost its power to subpoena officers a few years ago after a long legal battle.

The captain had long been the subject of CIP investigations sparked by various complaints. Most of the allegations in the most recent investigation are still being investigated by Miami’s internal-affairs unit.

Ortiz served as the president of Miami’s Fraternal Order of Police between 2011 and 2017, and often drew criticism for social-media posts attacking critics of police. A few years ago, he made the news when he called for a boycott of a Beyoncé concert, saying he and other cops saw her work as anti-police.

The captain has also been the subject of various lawsuits and criticism from police-reform advocates.

The latest CIP probe concluded that Ortiz abused the off-duty work program — which he now oversees. Like most police departments, Miami cops are allowed to work uniformed jobs as security for private businesses and events.

Miami department policy states that officers cannot work more than 16 hours of off-duty in one day, and not more than 36 hours in one work week.

The panel found, for example, that Ortiz worked 66 hours during one week in Spring 2017 at two off-duty jobs: at the Echo Brickell condo building and at the University of Miami School of Medicine. On one occasion, in March 2018, he put in for 27.5 hours in one day while working the Calle Ocho parade, according to a spreadsheet compiled by the CIP investigation.

The investigation detailed jobs between January 2017 and August 2019.

The probe’s findings will be presented to a sub-committee of the CIP. If it votes to endorse the findings, the full panel will consider the allegations.

The CIP investigators also dinged Ortiz for his prolific social-media presence, primarily going after Miami City Commissioner Joe Carrollo, who has long been engaged in a public battle against the Little Havana nightspot Ball & Chain.

“@JoeCarolloNow is a legend in his own mind. I think there is a medical diagnosis for people that pretend they’re something they are not,” read one tweet.

The CIP probe also noted one tweet directed at former CIP member — and city-commission candidate — Danny Suarez. “Playing Fortnite video games doesn’t make you an expert on police matters. You know nothing. Are you running for commissioner, Sheriff or honor boy Scout this week?”

The CIP probe found the posts could “reasonably be considered careless or irresponsible.”

In his statement, Ortiz fired back: “The CIP is nothing but a joke. Their million dollar budget should be spent on social programs that Miami residents in some of our poorest areas need badly.”