via @BrendaMedinar @msanchezMIA
Sweetwater's former police chief promoted at least four officers who did not have the proper qualifications, according to a grievance filed by Miami-Dade County's largest police union.
Among the officers named in the complaint from the Police Benevolent Association: Sgt. Jenna Mendez, the daughter of Miami-Dade Commissioner Lynda Bell.
Mendez owns a fencing company, Fence Assured, with her husband, Damian -- a fact Bell did not disclose earlier this year when she successfully sponsored legislation to allow more chain-link fences in front of homes.
In October of last year, Sweetwater gave the company a fencing contract, according to El Nuevo Herald's Brenda Medina and Melissa Sanchez:
El Nuevo Herald weeks ago requested access to the personnel file of Officer Méndez, the daughter of County Commissioner Lynda Bell, as well as the files of other officers.
However, police spokesperson Jorge Fernández de Lara said this week that “higher authorities had requested that police personnel files and other documents” be kept secured because they could become evidence in an investigation.
Fernández de Lara, who did not identify the “higher authorities,” said those documents are locked in the department’s evidence room despite the fact that they are public records.
Méndez’s family has also received other benefits from the city of Sweetwater.
In October of last year, the city gave a contract to Fence Assured LLC, a fence installation company owned by Méndez and her husband, Damian.
City officials could not specify on Friday how much money the city has paid to Fence Assured since the signing of the contract, but the company has installed several wire-mesh fences at several Sweetwater properties, including a piece of land on Northwest 17th Street that, according to images published on the company’s website, are used by two city helicopters.
In February, Bell promoted legislation at the county commission to lift a ban on wire-mesh fences at homes without revealing her daughter’s business in this field. The Eye on Miami blog first reported on the fencing company last week.
Méndez started working as a police officer for the city of Sweetwater in January 2011, less than a year after being fired from the Homestead Police Department. Méndez lost her job as a reserve officer in Homestead, where her mother had been mayor, after allegedly threatening her boyfriend with a gun in February 2010. Méndez’s lawyer argued then that it had been in self-defense.
Méndez did not answer phone messages on Friday.