OPINION: Only Kahn should be chief

9/1/2014 0:00:00

By Wallace Clark

Only Kahn should be chief

Current Miami Springs Police Chief Pete Baan will retire at the end of this year and the next chief should be, without a doubt, Captain Jon Kahn. The 36-year veteran came up
through the ranks, serving as an undercover detective whose life was in danger more than
all other officers combined. He was also a K-9 sergeant, lieutenant and is now captain/
assistant chief and acting chief when Chief Baan is out of town.

Earlier this year, Baan recommended to city management that Kahn be his replacement.

In an April 30 memo to City Manager Ron Gorland, Kahn said he would be willing to
serve as chief; however, he didn’t want to apply for the position. Meaning, he didn’t want
to go through the process. And he shouldn’t have to.

Kahn is set to retire a year after Baan, but the captain’s desire to be chief was
unquestionably clear. Nevertheless, Gorland sent a July 23 memo to council members
mentioning, in part: “…John Kahn’s subsequent letter opting out of consideration…”

That’s blatantly untrue.

Politics seem to be playing a major part in the selection of the next chief and new
requirements have been added to the application. The one that rankles many officers is
“Bilingual English/Spanish preferred.” That would take Kahn out of consideration and
eliminate everyone else in the current command staff – lieutenants and higher.

Note: About half of the current officers have Hispanic surnames and at least two non-
Hispanic officers speak fluent Spanish, as well as several civilian employees. There’s no
shortage of Spanish speakers in the police department.

Contrary to public opinion, the police department is not autonomous. The final say goes
to the city manager. When Lt. Steve Carlisle retired last December, his position was
eliminated by Gorland, despite objections from Baan.

Eliminating a lieutenant’s position meant that none of the four sergeants could move
up in rank, no patrol officer would be promoted to sergeant and no Public Service Aide
would be sent to the police academy. (The eligible PSA was hired by Miami-Dade

More than 40 people have applied to be Miami Springs Police Chief and since Gorland
told Kahn in person that he isn’t being considered for chief, it’s obvious that the new
chief will come from somewhere else.

In a highly questionable and disrespectful move, Chief Baan, who has lived in Miami
Springs his entire life, wasn’t included in the hiring process.

While the new hire will obey orders from management, Baan and Kahn are longtime
cops and dedicated to their officers. However, they sometimes question management
and Gorland doesn’t like that. Most likely, a new chief won’t know anyone under his
command and will be unquestionably obedient and loyal to the people that got him or her
(highly unlikely) the job.

The new chief will undoubtedly bring in some of his own people, pushing current officers
further down the line. That will send a message to the rank-and-file that no matter how
long or how well you do your job, it doesn’t mean you will be promoted or become chief.

Rumors are rampant that one elected official has talked to a high-ranking bilingual police
officer from another agency and encouraged him to apply for the job. Not illegal, but
questionable and unethical.

One of city management’s objections to Kahn is his upcoming retirement, which has
nothing to do with his ability to do the job of chief for a year. Kahn also doesn’t have all
the college requirements that are on the current application; however, they can be waived.

Another option is to name Kahn acting chief or interim chief for his last year. It would be
ludicrous to say he can’t do the job or that hiring a new chief is crucial and immediate.

When all the forms are filled out and interviews completed, choosing a new chief comes
down to one person: City Manager Gorland. He can name the newest rookie, if qualified,
to be chief.

What’s amazing but not surprising is that none of the council members have objected to
Kahn being passed over for chief. No matter that elected officials have one vote each, not
one opposes Gorland on this issue and it’s obvious at council meetings that Gorland and
Garcia run the show.

Council members should question why Kahn is not being considered for chief and why
Gorland told the council that Kahn opted out. Kahn asked for the job and he deserves it
more than anyone.

Opinion of Wallace Clark without input or approval from Baan or Kahn.


About Nestor Suarez

Nestor Suarez has been a resident of Miami Springs since the 1980s. He grew up in the Springs attending Miami Springs Middle and Miami Springs High before heading to the University of Miami. He founded the Miami Springs community website, MiamiSprings.com, in 1997 and continues to operate it to this day. Nestor Suarez is also a South Florida businessman with over 20 years experience in E-Commerce and Internet Marketing. Suarez helped to build TigerDirect.com in the late 90s and 2000s to become one of the Top 25 Internet Retailers in the country. In 2011, Suarez joined BrandsMart USA as the Vice President of E-Commerce and helped the legendary South Florida retailer modernize its E-Commerce operations while tripling its online revenues. In 2016, Suarez created Marketing Addicts, LLC in a partnership with a group of TigerDirect Alumni servicing the health care industry. Contact Mr. Suarez at Nestor.Suarez@gmail.com.