North Miami Beach: Threatening blog post traced to police computer
(MIAMI HERALD) North Miami Beach police are investigating a threatening submission to a resident’s blog that was posted using a city-issued computer.
The anonymous post invited criminals to pay a visit to two outspoken city activists.
The statements under investigation were submitted to gadfly Stephanie Kienzle’s blog votersopinion.com and was traced back to a city-issued police department computer, North Miami Beach Major Kathy Katerman confirmed.
Kienzle, who sent a letter to the police department requesting an investigation last week, never published the post on her site — which requires the moderators to approve submissions — but did save the text.
In the post, the writer defends the police department against proposed cuts the during the city’s budget process. The poster wrote, “There has been a tremendous amount of good work done by the North Miami Beach PD. There is a lot of crime deterred, caught, and handled by the PD. The speciality units that are being threatened to be dismantled are only going to assist the criminals. Gangs and criminals only look for opportunities.”
The poster called out two council meeting regulars who have supported the city’s call to reduce the police force. In the post, resident Mubarak Kazan, who is Muslim, is called “Al-Jazzerri” and Bert Kehren, of resident German heritage, a “Nazi.” The poster goes on to say, “criminals, here it is” — followed by a description of Kazan’s house and directions to where both men live. The poster tells the criminals to “have fun.”
“That wasn’t very cool,” Kienzle said. “I wasn’t going to publish residents’ addresses and let someone say, ‘Criminals, go get them’. I felt that it was necessary to bring it to the attention of the police chief.”
North Miami Beach police declined to provide further details citing an ongoing investigation that will likely be completed in the coming days.
Interim Police Chief Larry Gomer said in statement, “I am fully aware of the email blog that went through our police department server. I find the comments and content inappropriate and immediately opened an internal affairs investigation. …Any wrongdoing by one of our officers will be dealt with swiftly and firmly.
Gomer said residents who have complaints or feel that they are being singled out by North Miami Beach police officers are encouraged to report them to him personally of the police department’s internal affairs unit.
“I would tell resident not to broad brush the whole police department with a few that have made comments that are inappropriate. Everybody in the police department will continue to treat residents with the respect that they are due,” he said.
Kazan, well-known around City Hall for snapping photos at council meetings and speaking during public comment, said he has lost faith in the city’s police department.
“This is about everybody. Today they might pick on me; tomorrow they might pick on you. I do not have confidence the police department will bring this individual to justice,” Kazan said.
Kehren, whose also a regular at the mic during public comment at council meetings, said while he doesn’t take the attack personally, the city has to address what he calls “a sick police department.”
“This kind of stuff just has no room in our city. Nothing surprises me anymore,” Kehren said.
Both men, as well as other North Miami residents such as Kienzle, have come under attack for their public comments on leoaffairs.com, an online forum where police officers and the public can post under anonymous user names.
In one post, a user calls Kazan “Barak Husseini Al Jazeeri” and “Taliban.” Kehren is also referenced in another blog post on Leo Affairs as “Nazi Bert.”
Kienzle said the actions of a few police officers are casting a negative light on the entire department.
“It has absolutely gotten personal, they are trying to lash out on anybody who disagrees with them,” Kienzle said. “I understand they’re upset, but they don’t have a right to take their feeling out like this on the public.