Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates refused an interview this week with Miami New Times reporter Michael Miller because the chief believed Miller had already made up his mind about a story and was not giving him enough time for a proper response.
Then the chief emailed his staff, telling officers to keep the issue in-house and refrain from sending emails about it, since they can become public record.
“I encourage you to talk to me about it. No emails, please. Stop by and see me in the office or call Tricia and she’ll arrange for us to talk by phone,” he wrote.
The emails were soon leaked and first reported by Random Pixels blogger Bill Cooke.
Miller sent Oates a lengthy email Monday explaining he was working on a project involving the use of Tasers in several police departments. He asked the chief to respond to specific Beach incidents.
Tuesday morning, Oates responded, declining to be interviewed. An investigation into the death of graffiti artist Israel Hernandez is still ongoing, said Oates, who told Miller his request for a response by Friday was “unreasonable” and said the reporter’s email “implies that you have already rendered judgment.”
New Times Editor Chuck Strouse said he was astounded Oates’ memo was leaked so quickly. He backed Miller’s reporting.
“Mike is in no way biased,” Strouse said. And the story, he added, “is solid as hell.”
Oates did not respond to an email requesting comment.