Stop Undermining the Police

South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard

Mayor Philip K. Stoddard, PhD

I am surprised that local leadership of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the union for the South Miami PD’s Lower Police Unit would join with a former mayor in actively undermining the work of the police officers it represents, and I am sincerely disappointed that South Miami News would promote this misdirected effort.

Former mayor and perpetual political candidate Horace Feliu came by the Commission meeting on 15 Aug. to report on a make-believe crime wave sweeping South Miami.  He claimed that South Miami police needed to do a better job keeping residents safe, and urged High Pines not to pursue annexation with South Miami because it was too dangerous here.

South Miami News repeated Mr. Feliu’s tale of a crime wave, a bogus story invented from anecdotal figures that don’t even exist within the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) standard.  South Miami is absolutely NOT having a crime wave today, as shown by the actual crime statistics compiled by the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement (FDLE), which do comply with the FBI’s standard.  The overall crime rate in South Miami has been cut in half since Horace Feliu was mayor: 9% in 2009 versus 4.6% in 2016.  The same is true for violent crimes: 104 in 2009 versus 56 in 2016.  In fact, our police have pushed South Miami’s crime rate to the lowest since 1991when FDLE began keeping records.  Instead of falsely denigrating the good work of the South Miami Police Dept., Feliu and South Miami News should commend the department leadership and officers for the improved policing programs and enhanced safety they have delivered to the City.

City resident Johnny Jones came by the same Commission to complain that South Miami’s finest had taken the two chairs where he and his friends sit to drink beer outside of Safari “Joe’s” Market on the corner of SW 62nd Ave and SW 64th St., immediately adjacent to a residential neighborhood.  An outrage?  Just the opposite.  Mr. Jones failed to mention that Joe’s Market posts conspicuous signs prohibiting alcohol and drugs onsite.


The officer had good reason to remove those chairs.  Our police recently collected crack bags from this site, and they have found the area strewn with beer bottles after the guys are done having a few (photos below). 

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Consuming alcohol outside a store is illegal and the outdoor drug sales and use it attracts creates a blight on the neighborhood.  All these are reasons why our police, who protect the neighborhood day and night, have worked to end public drinking in the parking lot outside this marketplace.  Nobody minds a few guys hanging out at the end of the day, but we can’t have people consuming alcohol in a commercial parking lot on a major street corner and attracting outdoor drug activity.  They can drink at home, at a tavern, or at a restaurant with a beer & wine license, but not in front of a store.  Removing chairs is a lot nicer than arresting guys for having a beer, and sends the same message.  Meet community policing. 

The South Miami News version of this story, titled “A Message from the Fraternal Order of Police”, shows the FOP union president and a grinning Horace Feliu seated with a few guys outside Joe’s Market in brand new plastic chairs purchased with FOP funds. 

Seen in its full context, this picture is disturbing: at the same time as the South Miami Police Department is working to keep the neighborhood safe, lawful, and drug-free, the police union president and a former mayor are actively undermining the police officers who work this beat.

While the South Miami News article presented no evidence of Mr. Feliu’s make-believe crime wave, it did show graphic evidence of a police union president and the former mayor working against the community policing efforts that have brought down crime in the City.  It showed these two people facilitating illegal activity that harms economic vitality and quality of life in the neighborhood, and it falsely suggests our police are doing a poor job, when, in fact, our police have made exemplary improvements to the safety of our residents, businesses, and visitors.

Why would the officers elect a union president who undermines their hard work?  Nor is it clear why Mr. Feliu believes that promoting illegal activity and unfairly disparaging the South Miami PD will help him get back into public office.  Finally, I cannot understand why South Miami News editor Michael Miller chooses to promote this bizarre encouragement of public drinking and drug use right down the street from his own newspaper office and publishing house.  The City of Pleasant Living would be better off without these political antics and union theatrics, and the City would certainly benefit from a local newspaper that supports its community by reporting fairly and factually about the hard-working men and women who keep it safe.

5 guys in chairs-1-min

The original story, which appeared in the August 15th edition of the South Miami News.

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6 Comments on "Stop Undermining the Police"

  1. Sharon McCain | August 30, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Reply

    It is Mayor Stoddard who has told so many lies for the past 8 years that he wouldn’t know the truth if he slapped him in the face. How sad for the residents of the City and the young woman and men he apparently teaches at FIU. Perhaps Mayor Stoddard shouldn’t fudge the police stats, because murders are up ever since Mayor Stoddard was regrettably elected years ago. Many are surprised the governor hasn’t shown him the front door by now.

  2. Don O;Donniley | August 30, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Reply

    I worked with Mayor Feliu but do not know Mayor Stoddard, So my comment is that I never have found Mayor Feliu to be anything but open and he is not a liar.

  3. “Perpetual political candidate.” Interesting choice of words from one who is currently serving a fourth term, gearing up for a fifth, and eyeing a state office in the future. Much like Philip Stoddard, Horace Feliu believes in public service. There is no need to smear Feliu because he has the courage to run for office.

  4. Horace G. Feliu | September 2, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Reply

    Current South Miami Mayor Phil Stoddard penned an article titled, “Stop Undermining the Police.” Unfortunately, his rant was filled with several untruths and misrepresentations. Keeping quiet is not an option, so I will set the record straight by highlighting actual facts.
    FACT: In the article, Stoddard calls me a “perpetual political candidate” and the fact is I am. As a former mayor I have a proven record of Zero Drive-By shootings, increased business revenue and a transparent government. These are key issues we have not seen under Stoddard’s tenure. I will gladly compare my record of visible solid accomplishments as Mayor and Commissioner. I will also continue to be involved as long as I see that the city we all live in is mired in gang related drive- by shootings, record setting lawsuits and the sell-out of our city hall to special interests. Our city is witnessing a downward spiral at many levels and because of this I will be running for Mayor of the City of South Miami in this coming election.
    FACT: The FOP did not “join a former mayor in undermining the work of the police officers it represents”. Quite the opposite, I was invited to join the FOP, which represents the majority of the SMPD in reaching out to the victims who’s chairs were illicitly confiscated by a couple of officers who were ordered to do so by the current administration. The purpose of the FOP’s gesture of giving new chairs back to the residents was to build bridges with the community. Surely, there are more important work for our SMPD to do than be liable for illicitly confiscating the chairs of peaceful patrons of Joe’s Market. Little wonder the city recently settled a $300,000 lawsuit with a former SM police officer.
    FACT: The City of South Miami under Stoddard’s tenure has witnessed the first ever, police shooting of an unarmed city resident and the first ever series of drive-by shootings! Stoddard’s “statistics” are only as good as what is actually reported to the agencies by his administration …however, you can’t hide murder and shootings in paperwork.
    FACT: Stoddard accuses me of “undermining the work of the police officers” and shows feigned concern for the public consumption of alcohol but yet neglects to say that it was his administration that put an end to the SMPD Drug and Narcotics squad along with the DUI checkpoints…. M.A.D.D has very good reason to be mad!
    FACT: Crime and statistics can be massaged and categorized in a manner, which benefits the administration. For example, where is the category for Drive-By Shootings in the city’s statistics? Answer: There isn’t one. Not acknowledging a problem, which continues to terrorize our community along with patrons of the South Miami Post Office, South Miami Metro-Rail and South Miami Gardens is cowardly, does not display leadership, and adds to the dishonesty and lack of transparency we all have witnessed during Stoddard’s administration.
    Perhaps drive by shootings is now categorized by Stoddard as a “vehicle associated disturbance”. Perhaps the murder, which occurred at South Miami Market in broad daylight several months ago and a couple of blocks away from an elementary school and Post Office, is characterized by Stoddard as an “incident”.

    FACT: Neither the City Manager’s report nor any of Stoddard’s statements even mentioned what constitutes the 7th drive by shooting in four years which took place by the SM Metro rail/Post Office area that very weekend. It’s as if this is now considered a non-event in South Miami! We all know that drive-by shootings are typically a result of rival drug gangs fighting over their turf, which unfortunately, is now South Miami. I doubt the City of South Miami residents which live near and frequent the locations where the shootings took place would consider it a “non-event”.
    FACT: Politician Stoddard continues to waste taxpayer dollars, time and energy in dictating where peaceful citizens should or should not sit or socialize instead of putting an end to the unprecedented drive by shootings and lawsuits. Attempting to shift the blame and discussion is nothing new and typical of his lack of leadership.
    I want to once again have the PRIVILEGE of being the City of South Miami’s Mayor and focus on putting the interest of the City of South Miami first and restore our city to one of pleasant living.

  5. marie d. valenti | September 3, 2017 at 9:22 am | Reply

    Incumbents have an advantage in an election when they can boast about their accomplishments. In this case, there are none and so gutter tactics have to be resorted to. Horace will bring professionalism and integrity back to the City of South Miami when he becomes mayor.

  6. There is nothing wrong with a politician aspiring to get in the public office. Why should this be highlighted and twice? Also, the official figures almost always never reflect the true state of safety and security and it is a common perception today that it has taken a hit in South Miami. Just my two cents!

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