It’s been a bad couple of weeks for law enforcement in Miami-Dade County. First, two Miami Beach Police Officers critically injured a tourist on the beach while driving their City-issued ATV intoxicated. These officers got drunk at a bachelorette party earlier in the evening. Then, a City of Miami police officer was stopped driving nearly 120 mph on the Florida Turnpike by a Florida Highway Trooper. However, the uproar in law enforcement circles surrounded the actions of the Highway Patrolwoman, and NOT the officer driving 120 mph.
Now, the Miami-Dade Police Department has joined the party, no pun intended. MDPD officer Fernando Villa was found passed out in his patrol car in shorts and a shirt. This wouldn’t be Miami-Dade County if that were the end of the story. Instead of treating the officer like all other individuals suspected of DUI, the MDPD supervisors on the scene decided to go against protocol and gave the office a promise to appear. A promise to appear allows an individual arrested, in lieu of being booked into jail and being forced to pay a bond, to simply “promise” to appear in court at their first court date. This type of process is reserved, as MDPD Director John Loftus states in the MSNBC article, to low level misdemeanor crimes (criminal traffic violations such as driving while your license is suspended or retail theft). A promise to appear is never done in DUI cases…NEVER! It doesn’t make much sense to allow someone you think is drunk and driving to go back out into the streets still drunk to do God knows what.
This incident simply reiterates what citizens in Miami-Dade County have known for quite a while; there are two sets of rules: Those for the police and a completely separate and more rigid one for everyone else. Do you agree? Have any of you experienced this double standard? If you find yourself in the cross hairs of police misconduct, please consult an attorney at once.