Florida Police Force Has ‘Complete Breakdown in Policy’

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In the Sweetwater, Fl., police chief’s 30 years in law enforcement, he’s never seen such “a complete breakdown in policy” until the recent arrest of two employees, the Miami Herald reports. An officer and a former detective were charged Tuesday for engaging in a “disturbing pattern of theft and physical violence.” They were arrested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as part of an investigation into decades of corruption in the West Miami-Dade city. “The details are appalling,” said Sweetwater Police Chief Placido Diaz. “I’ve never encountered anything that egregious.” Sgt. Reny Armando Garcia, 46, and former detective William Garcia, 42, face charges of organized scheme to defraud, racketeering and conspiracy. The two were accused of stealing from homes, beating citizens and “water-boarding” a suspect until he falsely confessed to burglary.

A third employee, former Sweetwater detective Octavio Oliu, was charged in 2015 on allegations that used a stolen Michigan license plate to avoid hundreds of highway tolls. He, too, faces racketeering charges. Police leadership considers the arrests a wake-up call for reform. Diaz said the arrests reveal corruption “buried into the establishment,” and prompted the department to eliminate staff and become state-accredited. “We’ve managed to have a fairly new department and a policy in place where there wasn’t before,” said Diaz, who joined the department as chief in 2015. “We are going to be held to state standards, which are best practices nationwide […] We are ensuring that every officer has gone through every single piece of training possible.”

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