City of Miami Police Captain Javier Ortiz

Sgt. Javier Ortiz of the Miami Police Department speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in 2012, in Miami.

At least two mostly Black membership organizations want Miami Police Capt. Javier Ortiz fired.

And the Miami Police Department is looking for reasons.

Police Chief Jorge Colina confirmed that there are civil and criminal investigations ongoing on Ortiz, and these reasons led to his suspension on Wednesday.

Colina was speaking at the Miami City Commission meeting on Thursday. He said there is another agency "other than Miami Police" investigating and that "that agency isn't necessarily working on its own." 

The Miami Community Police Benevolent Association and the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP both issued statements Wednesday, calling for the termination of Ortiz, one questioning his suitability to be a law enforcement officer.

The calls come on the heals of Ortiz being relieved of duty Wednesday, Jan 22. Service to the city of Miami Police department came to an indefinite halt for Ortiz, a Hispanic police captain who claimed to be a Black male. Ortiz has been suspended with pay pending further investigation. 

Ortiz will have remain at his home during scheduled work time while on suspension and receiving pay. If he had refused to submit to a drug test or was in jail, he would not receive pay, according to a Miami Fraternal Order of Police spokesman.

While the cases were ongoing, Ortiz made an assertion in front of Miami city commissioners during a meeting Jan. 17 that resulted in a global news uproar for its racial slant. 

“I’m a Black male. Yes, I am. And I am not Hispanic,” said Ortiz who spoke as a private citizen during the public comments segment of the meeting. Ortiz then dredged the “one-drop rule” a centuries-old reference to assigning Black or minority status to persons of mixed-race.

Ortiz applied to the police department as a white, Hispanic male. When he took the lieutenant and captain’s examinations, he indicated he is Black.

“We’re thrilled; it’s about time; and it’s a step in the right direction,” said Sgt. Stanley Jean-Poix, president of the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association. “We’re looking for his full termination.”  

Jean-Poix is at the forefront of racial discrimination allegations against the city of Miami. He issued “No Confidence” in Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina and asked for his dismissal in a 15-page document that outlines a litany of internal allegations against the department, most of which are personnel issues about the advancement and fair treatment of Black officers.

Submitted were incidents and summary reports intended to document how Black officers received disparate treatment with regard to discipline, promotions and widespread violations of training and internal affairs protocols.

According to the Jean-Poix, Ortiz has oversight over SWAT, traffic enforcement, crisis negotiation, K-9 and the bomb squad.

Jean-Poix noted in his report that Ortiz has continued to prove that his actions can be a liability. His conduct at the meeting seemingly advanced that claim.  

“I’m not a mental health professional, but as a person whose been alive 52 years, for me some of his behavior is a bit odd,” Colina told The Miami Times Jan. 19. “... I don’t know why he’d insert himself into a meeting when he didn’t have to speak.” 

The Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP issued a lengthy letter to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Colina and Miami Commissioners Wednesday evening, which reads in part:
 
"The facts are that Captain Ortiz has identified as Hispanic on his initial application with the City. It seems Captain Ortiz only identifies as Black on his promotional exams for Lieutenant and Captain, as far as we know. To make this assertion in a public form as a representative of the City of Miami Police Department brings into question Ortiz’s truthfulness, honesty, and suitability as a law enforcement officer (LEO). 
 
"Additionally, Captain Ortiz has a history of numerous Internal affairs Investigations, one of which was recently referred to the State Attorney’s Office. Additionally, community members have filed approximately 50 citizen complaints via the Civilian Investigative Panel. Those complaints range from negligence of duty to improper procedure and discourtesy. Captain Ortiz has continuously posted derogatory statements about Black people on his social media pages."
 
Suarez released a statement Wednesday regarding Ortiz's suspension: "Chief Colina recently informed me that Captain Javier Ortiz was relieved of duty. In the coming days, I will be meeting with the Chief to further discuss."

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Managing Editor

Penny Dickerson is a journalist joining The Miami Times following an Africa sojourn and 10-year freelance career in newspaper and magazine. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and B.A. in Journalism from Temple University.

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