John Timoney, 61, the Dublin-born four star Miami chief of police may be seeking pastures new soon if the city’s newly elected Republican mayor has his way.
Tomas Regalado, voted in as mayor in a landslide last Tuesday, wants the Irish police chief out and vows that he’ll keep the pressure on until he is. Timoney, however, is standing firm.
“I love it here in Miami,” Timoney told the press last week. “We have lots of work to do, lots of plans.”
Asked how he would respond to a sustained demand to leave from Regalado, Timoney simply answered, “You underestimate the Irish for stubbornness.”
It’s understood that Timoney, who as a teenager changed his name from Sean to John to fit in with his pals in his Washington Heights, New York neighborhood, has a big political fight on his hands that has it origins in City Hall and in the local police union.
In an election that featured very low voter turnout, Regalado came to power with the support of the powerful police union. Ousting the police chief has been priority number one for Armando Aguilar, the Fraternal Order of Police president, who argues that under Timoney his troops have been unfairly disciplined and denied promotions.
“There’s been nothing but turmoil since he started at this police department,” Aguilar told the press last weekend. “It’s been hell on our troops. He’s basically destroyed morale.”
The quarrel between the union and Timoney first became public in 2007, when a police union official leaked information to a television reporter about a free Lexus Timoney had allegedly acquired.
That year Aguilar also called a press conference to claim that city crime statistics were being faked. The FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement were asked to examine the files but found no evidence of wrongdoing.
After that Aguilar called for a union vote of confidence in the chief. More than 80% of union members cast no-confidence votes. The two haven’t spoken since, Aguilar said.
Regalado can’t fire the police chief, but he can fire the city manager that controls personnel, so it’s understood that Regalado plans to force the city manager’s hand by keeping the pressure on.
“My move is to keep saying to the city manager that I’m very uncomfortable with the chief,” Regalado told the press. “I will say that every day. People get messages.”
Outgoing Democratic Mayor Manny Diaz says that he still strongly supports Timoney and regrets all the recent pressure to oust him.
“Do you want a nice guy, someone who will take you out for lunch, or do you want someone who’s the best? I'm extremely pleased with him, honestly,” Diaz said at the weekend.
If Timoney himself is feeling the pressure he’s certainly not showing it.
“I’ve had a great time in Miami. I love living in South Florida. It’s more relaxing than in New York,” he said.