An investigation into Miami police officers’ on-duty conduct found six officers were ignoring 911 calls while instead kissing their girlfriends, shopping, and drinking coffee.
One 911 call involved an unconscious five-month-old baby. Video footage shows Miami police officer Dario Socarras ignoring dispatch orders to save the child, while drinking coffee for nine minutes and lying to the dispatcher about being “en route”. Paramedics eventually reached the unconscious child, while Socarras never went – but still, the officer wrote in his daily report that he attended the scene.
And Socarras is only one of six officers caught neglecting their duties: after being followed and caught on surveillance video by Internal Affairs, two officers and a sergeant were fired and three were suspended without pay for dereliction of duty from the Miami Dade Police Department.
The footage of the incidents documents the department’s worst case of delinquency in its history.
Aside from ignoring the dispatch orders to save the unconscious baby, Socarras was also found to have ignored armed robbery and residential burglary calls. Instead, the officer was found kissing and cuddling with his girlfriend in the parking lot of a shopping mall on two different occasions.
Socarras was also caught misleading a crime victim, promising to fill out a police report about items that were stolen form her, while telling dispatchers that no crime had occurred. The officer proceeded to give the victim a phony case number.
“We’re talking about falsification of official records, stealing time that doesn’t belong to you, because they are supposed to be available for service or duty and they are not,” former Miami Police Chief Ken Harms told CBS4.
And the officer’s supervisor was no better: Sgt. Jennifer Gonzalez was drinking coffee with Socorras while he ignored a dispatch order and was separately recorded shopping while on duty at stores including Target, Lowes and Kohl’s. In one incident, Gonzalez bought so many items at a department store that she even requested a store clerk to help her carry and load her goods into her police car.
Investigators also found that Gonzalez would spend hours visiting her parents in an area that was outside of the district she was employed to be working in. The sergeant has been accused of letting her own neglectful work habits affect others in her department, since all of the officers accused of dereliction of duty were working for her.
Officer Jose Huerta was found repeatedly lying about his availability, claiming he was stuck on a call involving a traffic incident when in fact he was free to respond to calls that the dispatcher had waiting for him. In one incident, he failed to immediately respond to a call about a five-year-old child being locked inside a vehicle – an incident that can quickly turn deadly in the heat under the Miami sun.
Internal Affairs discovered many other incidents of neglectful duties among officers and sergeants in the Miami Dade Police Department. Even though the investigation was conducted in 2010, the delinquent sergeant and officers were not penalized until late 2012.
While this is the Miami police department’s worst case of delinquency, its officers have repeatedly come under scrutiny for illegal and negligent actions. Last week, a Miami officer was fired for shooting an unarmed motorist. In September, police officer Fausto Lopez was fired for driving more than 120 miles per hour and was found to have driven more than 90 miles per hour more than 80 times.
Cases of police neglecting their duties and violating the law are not unusual in Miami, and the video surveillance acquired by the Internal Affairs investigation shows just how dire the situation is.