Police Chief Resignation

On Monday April 15th, I placed Chief Luis Cabrera on administrative leave after learning of several significant issues with pre-employment background checks involving police department hires.  These issues, based on an initial assessment, led to employees who should have been denied but were hired to work for the Biscayne Park Police Department, thereby exposing BPPD to potential liability.

Over the next few weeks, a review was conducted which uncovered many issues with the administration of the police department.  The summary and full review along with our next steps is available on our website.

Chief Cabrera used his position and authority as Chief to bypass certain background check processes required by our policies and procedures in order to hire individuals who would otherwise be denied employment.  Three of the examples include Benny Lee, Jose Castro, and his Jose’s son Chris Castro.

Benny Lee, during his past employment with other law enforcement agencies, had 12 internal affairs investigations and had been fired by two other local law enforcement agencies.  Chief Cabrera ordered BPPD’s background investigator to clear Mr. Lee for hiring without performing a thorough background investigation. Mr. Lee has since been terminated for improperly removing personal belongings, narcotics, and firearms from BPPD’s evidence room.  A criminal investigation is currently pending regarding Mr. lee’s conduct.

Jose Castro has a lengthy criminal history including assault and battery, domestic assault, a weapons violation, and instances of impersonating a police officer.  Chief Cabrera created a volunteer background investigator position and appointed Mr. Castro to the position.  In addition, he twice sponsored Mr. Castro to the police academy, bypassing the required background checks that would have disqualified him.  Most recently, Mr. Castro identified himself as an off-duty BPPD officer on a 911 call placed while he was working a private security job (not through the Village) due to a trespasser being at the singer Shakira’s home.  Body cam footage shows Mr. Castro holstering his weapon with the subject lying on the ground in front of him as police arrived.

Chris Castro, Jose’s son, was hired despite being terminated from another law enforcement agency and having six internal affairs investigations on his record.  He has since been terminated for failure to complete probation due to multiple issues including mishandling of evidence and receiving several complaints from citizens.

In addition to the above-described circumstances, I have discovered multiple other issues including incomplete personnel files, incomplete training documentation, the complete absence of an inventory management system, a failed evidence management system, and multiple accusations of cronyism.

When presented with this information, Chief Cabrera chose to resign his position with BPPD. 

We are now focused on our next steps and moving forward, starting with the selection of a new Chief.  More information on this process is available on our website.

These situations do not in any way reflect on the good men and women of the police department who protect Biscayne Park on a daily basis.  We have some of the best and most dedicated employees I’ve had the pleasure of working with during my career.  They are the reason our residents enjoy almost zero crime and one of the reasons our residents love living here. 

The Village, our staff, and our residents are resilient.  We will continue to move forward.

Chris Truitt
Village Manager
Village of Biscayne Park