MIAMI POLICE OFFICERS MAY SOON HAVE NEW POLICY ON BEING SERVED WITH CIVIL PROCESS.
I am the chairperson of the policy committee of the City of Miami Civilian Investigative Panel. On 9/17/2020 we had a public policy committee meeting where we reviewed Miami Police Department policy updates and made recommendations on their changes to their policies. Present at the meeting was Major Mike Gonzalez of the Miami Police Department, CIP policy committee members, Cristina Beamude, CIP Director, and Rodney Jacobs, CIP Assistant Director.
I also own Miami PSPI, a process service and private investigative agency. Over the past 20 years, we have been hired to serve many police officers and it hasn't always been easy. Police officers are served with subpoenas and lawsuits just like everyone else. Unlike everyone else, their home address is not available on public records. In fact, it is actually a crime to publicly file any documents listing an officer’s home address pursuant to FL CH 119 so filing a return of service with their home address is out of the question. As a result, process servers are left with no choice but to serve police officers at work but they don’t always make themselves available for service and this creates a situation where officers are able to use their jobs as cover from being served with legal process.
Miami Police Department policy 126.96.36.199 read as follows: “Testifying In: Members or civilian employees shall not testify in civil cases, without approval of the Chief of Police or as provided in directives, unless legally summoned to do so.” I made my case for language to be included to this policy that addresses my concerns. Major Gonzalez had no issues with my argument and the policy committee voted to accept the recommendation.
On 9/28/2020, our recommendations were sent to Chief Jorge Colina. This was our suggestion: “The committee recommends that the department add language requiring officers to make themselves available when process servers try to serve them while they are at work. The Committee agreed that it is important to avoid disclosure of police officers’ home address, however, officers should cooperate with process servers while at work." The letter can be found below.
It would be nice if the Chief adopts our suggestions and that police departments nationwide use our policies as a model for their departments. I will keep you updated as to how this turns out.