A war is brewing in South Florida, but don't look to the police to protect you. They're the ones who are fighting. Members of the Miami-Dade Police Department aren't taking kindly to having one of their own arrested at gunpoint by a State Trooper and now the threats and insults are flying.
It started last month when Miami Officer Fausto Lopez was pulled over in his squad car for driving 120 MPH en route to an off-duty job. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Trooper Donna Jane Watts pulled him over, gun drawn, and put him in handcuffs.
Miami cops are complaining that it was an overreaction. Florida Highway Patrol, mostly, is backing up their trooper and claiming the Miami PD is full of would-be David Carusos. And it's getting worse.
The head of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police sent out a letter defending Lopez with the obviously coded remark "Do not be running her information on DAVID, FCIC/NCIC, etc." referring to databases used by law enforcement.
This is the equivalent of telling a seven-year-old "not to go into the drawer below the sink and take out the candy there and eat it."
Animosity between different departments in overlapping jurisdictions isn't a new phenomena, but the officers involved have taken the scuffle online. The bickering has moved to the LEOAffairs.com website, a large forum restricted to active and retired law enforcement officers. It reads like a Shawn Ryan teleplay without the wit.
On one side you've got the Miami-Dade officers who are upset at the notion that they're being treated poorly by the Florida Highway Patrol and, in particular, this one woman. The comments are often misogynistic and highly insulting. They call her a "b*tch" and insult her hair. Here's a representative one from user "greenwhite," who also includes a threat.
Other members have threatened the officer with not getting backup, potentially putting her in danger.
Member "ppde" steps in to defend the trooper and accuses the Miami-Dade Police Department of being full of crooks out to screw other people and themselves. He also makes the threat, which is implied elsewhere, that there are more FHP troopers than Miami PD officers.
A few of those commenting on the situation seem to think both parties are to blame for their behavior, chastising the Miami PD officer for putting people in danger needlessly and Trooper Watts for abandoning protocol and escalating the situation by raising her weapon.
Both the FHP and the Miami Dade PD are looking into the situation internally. Although Lopez was only was charged with reckless driving and released, Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa said his move was "knuckle-headed" and that he "will pay for it."
In the meantime, if you find yourself between a group of finger-snapping FHP and a Miami PD officers just quietly walk the other way unless you want to get in the middle of some serious dance fight action.