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SWAT team’s dispute heats up in Hallandale Beach

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Hallandale Beach Police Department Chief Sonia Quiñones said she was not expecting a group of disgruntled police officers to show up to a Monday meeting with an attorney.

The 10 police officers recently announced their resignation as members of the Special Weapons And Tactics, the military-like unit within the Hallandale Beach Police Department.

Greg Chavarria, the city manager, said the meeting, which was meant to focus on complaints about a lack of support, quickly turned into a labor dispute.

“We were trying to do a dialogue with the members that resigned but something else happened,” Chavarria said.

Quiñones said she was highly disappointed.

“It didn’t end well. Unfortunately, the rest of our meeting did not take place,” she said. " The officers were told to only tell me that what they wrote in that letter was all they had to say and were not willing to talk to me any further."

Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana and Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper were aware of the meeting.

Hallandale Beach Police Chief meets with SWAT team

It was set up after the officers complained about Quiñones’ decision to kneel with protesters. Many in law enforcement have also expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, which seeks to combat racism.

The officers were also concerned about the mentions of a 2014 case in which the SWAT Team conducted a 6 a.m. drug raid at the home of Howard Bowe, 34.

Howard Bowe (Hallandale Beach)

Officer Michael McKenzie was accused of shooting Bowe, who was unarmed. Sgt. Paul Heiser was accused of killing Bowe’s pit bull during the May 8, 2014 raid. Former Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy ruled Heiser complied with policies. A grand jury pardoned McKenzi.

Javellana, 22, talked about the case on CNN saying the officers found 16 gms of cocaine at his home. She wants the money that is being used on “militarized” enforcement to be used for social programs.

“We really truthfully believe that he was wrongfully killed,” Javellana said.

Hallandale Beach officials didn’t identify the attorney who is representing the officers.

About the Authors:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.