In another indicator that many cops have little to no empathy, a police agency in Miami-Dade County openly admitted to targeting random black people to charge them for unsolved burglaries in order to maintain a 100 percent clear rate for solving cases.
Essentially, destroying lives to fill egos.
The Biscayne Park Police Department is a tiny department of less than 15 officers patrolling a residential village of just over 3,000 people in a bustling metropolis surrounded by several larger municipalities with much larger police forces.
But its tiny size did not stop it from being just as corrupt if not more corrupt than its neighbors.
As of now, former police chief Raimundo Atesiano and two officers, Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez, are facing federal charges, which can land them in prison for 11 years, according to the Department of Justice.
The indictment was damning enough: A former police chief of Biscayne Park and two officers charged with falsely pinning four burglaries on a teenager just to impress village leaders with a perfect crime-solving record.
But the accusations revealed in federal court last month left out far uglier details of past policing practices in tranquil Biscayne Park, a leafy wedge of suburbia just north of Miami Shores.
Records obtained by the Miami Herald suggest that during the tenure of former chief Raimundo Atesiano, the command staff pressured some officers into targeting random black people to clear cases.
“If they have burglaries that are open cases that are not solved yet, if you see anybody black walking through our streets and they have somewhat of a record, arrest them so we can pin them for all the burglaries,” one cop, Anthony De La Torre, said in an internal probe ordered in 2014. “They were basically doing this to have a 100% clearance rate for the city.”
On a positive note, the racist practice was revealed when several other officers complained to city officials.
In a report from that probe, four officers — a third of the small force — told an outside investigator they were under marching orders to file the bogus charges to improve the department’s crime stats. Only De La Torre specifically mentioned targeting blacks but former Biscayne Park village manager Heidi Shafran, who ordered the investigation after receiving a string of letters from disgruntled officers, said the message seemed clear for cops on the street.
“The letters said police were doing a lot of bad things,” Shafran told the Herald. “It said police officers were directed to pick up people of color and blame the crimes on them.”
The letters led to a federal investigation, which resulted in Atesiano resigning in 2014. It is not clear at this time when the two other cops left the department but it took another four years for the feds to hand down indictments.
While Atesiano was chief during a two-year period, the department prided itself on having solved 29 out of 30 burglary cases. In 2015, after he was gone, the department did not solve a single one of the 19 reported burglaries.
Atesiano was also involved in another scandal where he borrowed thousands of dollars from an underling, promising to repay the money through a combination of taxpayer-funded overtime and off-duty work, according to the Miami Herald.
But the scandals did not go away after Atesiano went away.
Last year it was revealed that the Biscayne Park Police Department hired a cop named George Miyares after he had been rejected by ten other departments for various reasons, including failing a series of psychological, polygraph and background tests, according to the Miami Herald.
Nine months later, he was sued for an off-duty altercation where he was accused of falsely arresting and beating two men whose charges were eventually dropped.
The Village of Biscayne Park is listed as a co-defendant in the lawsuit for negligently hiring Miyares despite his troubled his history, including being arrested for aggravated assault and filing a false police report.
Despite those charges, he was hired as a Miami-Dade County corrections officer, which was when he was disciplined for brandishing a firearm and impersonating a police officer.
So given his history, he was a perfect fit at the Biscayne Park Police Department.
Here is a video of Chief Atesiano addressing the Biscayne Park Village Council bragging about how he is keeping the community safe.
Below is a video from 2010 where Atesiano talks about his involvement in the Freestyle Fighting Academy in Miami.