At Miami police headquarters, a large and expectant crowd looked on as tottering Police Chief Miguel Exposito tried to hang on while taking a new shot at Mayor Tomás Regalado, reports the Miami Herald. Vowing to end the “long, drawn-out novel” of political turmoil set off by the intensifying public rivalry, Exposito appeared to do just the opposite, telling a news conference he had turned over to the FBI what he called “evidence” of mayoral meddling into police operations targeting illegal gambling.
For most of the past 25 years, cop-vs.-civilian infighting — tinged by more than a hint of paranoia and conspiracy — has undone all but a handful of what has been a revolving door of Miami police chiefs. Many of the chiefs themselves have often proved willing to engage in the scrapping, in a department whose leadership has been at times divided by shifting allegiances to different politicians. Secret police dossiers on elected officials. Back-channel communications between police underlings and commissioners. Use of police to investigate opponents. Pressure to hire political favorites. Surveillance of city leaders. All have been alleged over the years, if not often proved. With the exception of John Timoney, who served almost the full eight years of former Mayor Manny Diaz’s term with little show of political squabbling, few chiefs have survived longer than three years on the job since Walter Headley Jr., who ruled Miami’s force for 20 years starting in 1948.