MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – What happens when an officer doesn’t do what he or she is supposed to do? Who polices the police?
The City of Miami has what’s called a civilian oversight panel. Miami-Dade County used to have one, and there are calls now to bring it back.
The Miami-Dade mayor and the county’s police director weighed in on that Thursday. On a Zoom call with reporters, they said tools like body cameras and community policing are in place to protect against racist brutality.
“We’ve come a long way in 10 years,” Mayor Carlos Gimenez said.
“99.9% of my officers out there on the street are serving with honor and respect and care about this community,” added Freddy Ramirez, Miami-Dade’s police director.
Yet this week, leaders in the black community called to bring back the county’s civilian oversight panel with subpoena power to investigate police-involved violence.
“I’ve heard from several chiefs — their hands are tied,” said Ruban Roberts of the Miami-Dade NAACP.
The mayor vetoed the idea two years ago and explained Thursday that the structure wasn’t acceptable; that commissioners should appoint overseers, not community groups.
But in that veto message two years ago, the mayor also wrote he was not convinced there was a need.
That’s also the position of the police union president, who keeps a list of some two dozen entities that currently oversee and investigate law enforcement.
“I affect the disciple ay my will. I can terminate at my will,” the director Ramirez said. “I even reorganized the department to ensure that we have a more streamlined process — not only investigating issues, but identifying trends before they become a problem.”