After receiving hundreds of pages from the first round of FOIA requests from Miami-Dade, we have a better understanding of the issues which led to the suspension and later removal of Miami-Dade School Police Chief Hurley. We also better understand why the historical activities of Trayvon Martin have been difficult to locate.
The first part of the publicly requested document release shows aspects surrounding an Internal Affairs investigation following the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Within the investigation dozens of witnesses gave sworn statements to investigative officers.
Included in the witness affidavits were six officers accused of leaking information to the media, and their statements reveal a systemic attempt by Chief Hurley to cover-up the instructions by Hurley to his officers.
From their statements, made under oath, it is apparent that sometime around 2009/2010 the police chief gave instructions for his officers to find alternate methods outside of the criminal justice system to confront the behavioral issues of school students.
As officer Tagle affirms, and other witnesses corroborate, the instructions were specifically targeted to young black males within the Miami-Dade Public School system. Targeted to keep their unlawful behavior away from engagement with the correction system and aimed to use school discipline instead of criminal corrections within the justice system.
In addition to avoiding writing criminal reports, the School Resource Officers were given instructions and approvals to avoidance at all costs. As Officer Ramirez told Commander Deanna Fox-Williams, the police chief also gave instructions to falsely cite incidents in their record keeping.
The officers who followed the police chief directives were praised and rewarded.
In 2010 to further hide the new directives from public review, Hurley also instituted a new policy of locking down information so that it would not be shared with inquiring entities who would be reviewing the record keeping within the M-DSPD. A new Standard Operating procedure (SOP) was instituted which stopped internal leadership from sharing offender files with other agencies.
Against the backdrop of the new school engagement guidelines, the changes in information sharing policy were meant as a buffer, and filter of sorts, to insure the manipulations within the new directives remained hidden.
However, the internal affairs investigation peeled back the curtain on the entire process.
Within the investigation we can see clearly that Trayvon Martin was engaging in behavior which would normally have led to criminal processing in the justice system. However, because the unlawful activity was re-written and falsely recorded the correction was left to the High School of attendance instead of police and law enforcement.
This placed the school in a tenuous position of having to find strong corrective disciplinary actions which would hopefully not only punish Trayvon Martin, but also to change his behavior. Subsequently this led to multi-week school suspensions. Trayvon was shot and killed during one of these 10 day school suspensions.
In hindsight it is easy to see the issues and flaws in the M-DSPD Police Chief Hurley policy.
The school disciplinary policies were never meant to replace the correction for unlawful behaviors within the criminal justice system. Indeed they were never created as such.
Not only is such an approach unfair to the school administration, but it’s simply not reasonable to expect a school behavior and disciplinary policy to replace the criminal justice system. Unlawful behavior is just that, a violation of law – that is what the criminal justice system is established to enforce, the law.
It should not be the burden of school teachers to act as police officers in law enforcement, that is what the police are for. Yet that is exactly what Chief Hurley was creating. A student breaks the law, the police officer avoids law enforcement, and the school is burdened with discipline as a method to replace the criminal justice correction.
That is exactly what happened with Trayvon Martin. Krop Senior High School was put in a position of trying to address his ever-increasing unlawful behaviors.
This approach ultimately led to one of the most ridiculous episodes as outlined in the sworn affidavits from the six officers, detectives and sergeants within the M-DSPD.
Former M-DSPD Police Chief Hurley with his son and wife
Trayvon was writing graffiti on school property. While in the process of writing FUCK YOU with permanent marker he was stopped. A search of his backpack revealed women’s jewelry and a “burglary tool”, a screwdriver.
Miami-Dade Police School Resource Officer Darryl Dunn then had to figure out what to do; Dunn knowing his police chief wanted young black males to remain out of the criminal justice system.
So Dunn decided to write-up the graffiti/jewelry incident as “criminal mischief”.
But how was he going to avoid a police report, that would be investigated, surrounding the stolen jewelry? His solution was to avoid it, completely.
Dunn wrote up the jewelry angle as “found items” to take possession of them. Described by Detective Tagle as if they were just found laying in a parking lot.
SRO Dunn wrote the report attributing Trayvon to the jewelry by report number only. He then transferred the jewelry to the property room of the M-DSPD, but never wrote up a criminal report which would have led to an investigation. So the “found jewelry” just sat in the property room gathering dust.
This approach seemed to fulfill the instructions from his boss the police chief, and it avoided an engagement with the criminal justice system for Trayvon Martin.
But, there’s one BIG problem; Well, at least, it should be a problem.
You see, burglary and stealing is actually unlawful.
The owners of the jewelry have a right to get their property back. There’s no way to follow the lawful process of investigation and property return without engaging in the criminal justice system. Hence, the items were just shelved as “found property”…. as if they were discovered sitting beside the road.
This issue became the thread which risked unraveling the entire construct of the policy. Hence, Chief Hurley was furious when ‘this issue’ reached the light of day. Hurley knew the risk, because he constructed the scheme. Hurley quickly understood the risk when he found out that Sanford Police were looking for information on Trayvon Martin.
….. and so as that little thread snagged, quickly the seam to the curtain was compromised, and eventually the entire curtain fell down. Now you can all bear witness: