MIAMI â€” The chief of police is taking disciplinary action against 36 officers for off-duty driving at speeds sometimes exceeding 100 mph.
Officer Fausto Lopez, the cop who led a Florida Highway Patrol trooper on an attention-grabbing chase through Broward County in October, has been suspended for one month in the first wave of punishment, according to reports.
The incident generated headlines and prompted a closer look at officers speeding by the Sun Sentinel newspaper, who in February published an investigation that used SunPass toll records to find that Miami officers drove up to 55 mph above the speed limit while off-duty and outside of city limits.
“What the Sun Sentinel has done is a service to all police agencies because if they did not know they had a speeding problem, now they do,” Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa said. “I, like most chiefs around, if you ask them everybody’s going to tell you, ‘We didn’t know it was this bad.'”
Internal affairs investigators developed a matrix for discipline based on the number of violations. Ten officers identified as occasional speeders have already been notified of their punishment, which ranges from warnings to temporary loss of their take-home cars.
Orosa said one or more habitual speeders will be fired, and he is installing GPS technology into 40 patrol cars to keep tabs on officers.
Police brass say they hope the crackdown sends a message that police are not above the law.