A month after a gunman murdered 11 worshipers in a November 2018 mass shooting inside a Pittsburgh synagogue, Miami Police officer Roberto Destephan made international headlines when a 12-second, self-recorded video surfaced and the world was treated to the sight of him tossing sacred Jewish texts and a case inscribed with the Star of David into the back of an empty pickup truck.
“This crap — fuck this,” Destephan says as he hurls the texts into the truck. “Taking out the trash, dawg.”
In January of 2019, over objections from the police union, the Miami Police Department fired Destephan, citing a “moral character” violation. The Anti-Defamation League released a statement saying, “We want to believe that law enforcement will always be there to protect us, regardless of who we are and how we pray. However, this incident erodes that belief and cripples the trust the community places in police.”
Fast-forward to September 2021: New Times received a tip that Destephan was working for another local police department.
Destephan’s reappearance in Biscayne Park after his firing in Miami is no aberration when it comes to police-force career trajectories in general.
According to a 2020 article in the Yale Law Journal, which examined 98,000 full-time law enforcement officers in 500 police agencies across Florida over three decades, determined that during any given year, more than 1,000 full-time police officers working in Florida were previously fired from other police agencies in the state. The article also found that fired officers are typically rehired at smaller agencies with “slightly larger” communities of color than others across the state, and more likely to receive a complaint or be fired for a “moral character violation.”
The village of Biscayne Park is home to about 3,000 people, the majority of whom are white or Hispanic. As of 2019, the police department employed seven full-time officers with an additional 24 reserve officers on staff, according to an annual report.
Source: Miami New Times