Tommy Reyes, a soft-spoken progressive sergeant, will lead the largest and most powerful police union in Miami for at least another two years, after holding off a challenge from a suspended firebrand and fellow officer in this week’s runoff election.
Reyes, a 35-year-old sergeant with 14 years on the force, easily outdistanced Capt. Javier Ortiz, collecting two-thirds of the vote to retain his post as president of Miami’s Fraternal Order of Police. The turnout was strong, with about three-quarters of the 2,000 qualified sworn officers and retirees casting a ballot.
Reyes, who was not feeling well Wednesday, did not comment.
The union vote, usually a behind-the-scenes affair that doesn’t pique much public interest, gained some media attention this year mostly because of the outspokenness of two of the candidates.
Ortiz, who served three terms as union president up until 2017, was suspended indefinitely with pay a year ago after a public outburst in the city’s commission chamber in which he referred to Blacks as “Negroes” and explained how he was actually Black and not Hispanic — citing an old racist trope known as the one-drop rule — to the city’s only Black commissioner.
That fiasco was preceded by a series of racially charged social media posts, including one in which the captain referred to 12-year-old Tamir Rice, shot and killed by a Cleveland cop while playing with a toy gun, as a thug.
The win by Reyes sidelines Ortiz from being the lead voice in sensitive contract negotiations with the very people who were responsible for his suspension.
Ortiz and Reyes made the runoff after being the top two vote-getters in an early December election that also included the vice president of the department’s Black police union, who during last summer’s heated social justice protests accused the city’s current police chief of using the N-word decades ago and lambasted him for not promoting enough Black males to top positions in the department.
Police Lt. Ramon Carr, 48, who has been with the department for 25 years, also referred to Ortiz as a “raving lunatic who doesn’t deserve to be a cop.” He finished third in December and didn’t qualify for the runoff.
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