Saturday, May 26, 2007

Score One for the Miami-Dade Inspector General

Christopher Mazzella runs Miami-Dade's Office of the Inspector General. He and his staff are one of the few good things our county has going for it. He inspired our first MVB Worthy Award. Without his tenacious watchdog efforts, we're sure things would be a lot uglier in government and truly believe he and his office are keeping it from sliding further toward becoming a banana republic. Yesterday, the Miami Herald reports the state reaffirmed his right to use a national crime database.

And why, might you ask, would such a question come up in the first place?

Because Miami-Dade police union President John Rivera was angry about Mazzella investigating him and other officers by using the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database which is used for criminal background checks. Rivera was angry enough to file lawsuits and publicly berate Mazzella because, in his view, the investigations were "flawed and unfair" after an anonymous complaint against the cops. It is Rivera's contention that Mazzella had "misrepresented his office as a 'criminal justice agency'."

Say what? Isn't that exactly what they are?

"There was no doubt," Mazzella said, "given our agency's commitment to rooting out corruption that we are a criminal justice agency."

Last fall a Miami-Dade investigation found no crime had been committed by Mazzella and his crew. In fact they suggested that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) join the FBI which has seen the inspector general's office as a criminal justice agency for nearly a decade. Yesterday, the FDLE gave Mazzella and his department its official blessing for access to the NCIC.

Following that ruling, Rivera, also the statewide Police Benevolent Association president, said he would file a complaint against the FDLE and ask for his own access to the NCIC. He reminded everyone that he has a "higher authority than Chris Mazzella. I want a machine for the PBA too."

Yikes! Now that makes us nervous. Besides sounding a bit childish on Rivera's part, we suspect by all the posturing and lawsuits thrown at Mazzella and his posse, the good guys are on to something, something big enough to make headlines and the corrupted powerful sweat.

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