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Miami to oust police chief who said city was run by 'Cuban mafia'

Art Acevedo, who was hired in March, said the comment was an attempt at humor that was being politicized against him.

The city of Miami on Monday moved to terminate its police chief, a nationally known law official who has been outspoken in his criticism of local leaders.

"Today, I suspended Police Chief Art Acevedo with the intent to terminate his employment," City Manager Art Noriega said in a statement.

Noriega hired Acevedo away from his top position with the Houston Police Department in March.

Under Miami's charter, the suspension is a necessary first step in a process of removing the department's chief.

"The relationship between the Chief and the organization has become untenable and needed to be resolved promptly," he said in the statement. "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 in his statement that the city will search for a new leader and that Assistant Police Chief Manny Morales takes over on an interim basis.

In a letter to the police department Monday, Acevedo, 57, promised to keep fighting.

"I promise to continue to fight the good fight to rid MPD of the political interference from city hall that unfortunately continues to negatively impact this organization," he said.

Acevedo made headlines in Miami after alleging the city is run by a "Cuban mafia." He said the comment was an attempt at humor that was being politicized against him.

He is also accused of failing to report damage to his city-owned SUV, allegations that he called baseless.

Acevedo has accused his elected superiors of interfering with police investigations and compared their actions to government behavior in Communist Cuba.

His remarks stung many in the city's influential Cuban American community. Acevedo was born in Cuba and came to the United States as a child. He grew up in Southern California and led the California Highway Patrol after starting there as a patrol officer in 1986.

Miami's commissioners had launched an investigation into the chief's performance.

The Miami Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night, but in September, about 8 in 10 of 781 members polled said they had no confidence in the chief.

Acevedo, who has marched with Black Lives Matter demonstrators and was critical of former President Donald Trump's statements on protesters, garnered national attention last year for his speaking out and agreeing with justice reform advocates.

But he's been accused of failing to back up his words with action and reform in his own departments.

The nonprofit justice reform publication The Appeal said in April that he is "good" at threading "the needle between appearing tough on crime and assuring more liberal members of the public that he takes their concerns about policing seriously."

The Appeal highlighted his unproven allegations that judges are too lenient and that more and more children are committing crimes.