By Amir Vera and Rebekah Riess, CNN
Miami City Manager Art Noriega has suspended Police Chief Art Acevedo “with the intent to terminate his employment,” according to a statement issued Monday by Noriega.
“The relationship between the Chief and the organization has become untenable and needed to be resolved promptly. In particular, the relationship between the Chief and the Police Department he leads — as well as with the community — has deteriorated beyond repair,” Noriega said.
“Relationships between employers and employees come down to fit and leadership style and unfortunately, Chief Acevedo is not the right fit for this organization,” the statement continued. “It is now time to move forward with the search for new leadership at MPD.”
Assistant Police Chief Manny Morales will be appointed as interim chief of the Miami Police Department as the city engages in the search for a permanent replacement, Noriega said.
CNN has reached out to Acevedo and the MPD for comment but has not heard back.
City manager memo outlines next steps for Acevedo
In a memo to Acevedo, Noriega outlined that the City Commission will hold proceedings within five days of Acevedo’s suspension to hear the allegations against him and decide how to move forward.
If the commission makes an affirmative judgment, Acevedo’s suspension will immediately become a removal, the memo said. If the commission decides the charges are not “well grounded,” Acevedo will be reinstated.
During his suspension, Acevedo is prohibited from issuing any commands, orders or directives as well as removing or destroying any of the city’s records, materials or equipment, according to the memo.
Acevedo’s suspension comes on the heels of city commissioners calling for his ouster during two contentious, hours-long meetings on September 27 and October 1 to discuss his decisions and behavior that were deemed questionable.
Acevedo wrote a bombshell memo to Mayor Francis Suarez and Noriega on September 24 in which he accused three city commissioners of of interfering with reform efforts and a confidential internal investigation.
Noriega’s memo said Acevedo “lost the confidence and trust of the rank-and-file” as well as the executive staff after three incidents where Acevedo appeared to support a Covid-19 vaccination mandate for officers, received a vote of no confidence by the Fraternal Order of Police and witnessed his deputy chief “verbally assault his executive staff after a commission meeting and did not intervene” on October 1.
Acevedo also announced “city policy without authorization to speak on behalf of the City of Miami” when he insinuated that the city was considering “vaccine mandates and a potential dispute with the Governor to defend that policy,” the memo said.
Acevedo also told officers during roll call in August that the “Cuban Mafia runs the Miami Police Department,” according to the memo.
His statement resulted in the alienation of a “large section of the department, his staff, and the public,” the memo said.
Acevedo later apologized, saying his comment was intended to “highlight the importance of diversity within our own ranks and to lighten our discussion,” but added that he has since learned it was “highly offensive to the exile Cuban community, of which I am a proud member.”
City manager calls Acevedo ‘brash’ and ‘hasty’
Because of these incidents, Noriega asked Acevedo to submit a plan to change issues within the police department.
Acevedo laid out a 90-day action plan October 4 to improve the department in several areas, including boosting officer morale, mending his relationship with elected officials and a policing and management plan.
But Noriega said the plan was “materially deficient” in addressing officer morale and community relations and offered “no significant plan to solve either problem.”
“In my view, there are problems with your leadership of the City of Miami Police Department which have been created and fostered over your twenty-three-week tenure,” Noriega wrote. “Instead of taking the time to first commit yourself to developing and fostering truth both within the department and the community, you were brash and hasty in many of your comments and actions.”
Acevedo began his law enforcement career with the California Highway Patrol in 1986 as a field patrol officer in Los Angeles and was named chief of the California Highway Patrol in 2005, according to his biography on MPD’s website. He then served as the chief of police in Austin, Texas, for more than nine years.
In 2016, he took the reins as Houston’s police chief where he served for more than four years before resigning in March.
As the first Latino to lead the police department in Houston, Acevedo was dubbed by Miami’s mayor as the “Tom Brady or the Michael Jordan of police chiefs,” when he was hired.
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CNN’s Emma Tucker contributed to this report.