Fort Lauderdale police chief Rick Maglione removed

Rick Maglione, who has been with the department since 1992, will be reassigned. The shakeup comes amid criticism over the handling of protests downtown in late May.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Rick Maglione has been removed as chief of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

Maglione is being reassigned to a position to be determined and the city will begin searching for a new chief.

Assistant Chief Karen Dietrich will run the department in the interim, said City Manager Chris Lagerbloom, who made the decision to change leadership.

The department has been criticized for its handling of downtown protests on May 31 and the aftermath, but Lagerbloom said there wasn’t one event that led to the move.

“Make no mistake we’ve had events occur in our police department in the last month, but I can tell you there’s not been one event that has been the decision-making event,” Lagerbloom said at an afternoon news conference.

Maglione has been with the department since 1992.

In a text message to Local 10 News’ Glenna Milberg, Maglione said: “The only thing that I would like to say is that I appreciate the honor of leading this department for the last few years. I will continue to love and support this community and the great men and women of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department until the time that I take that badge off my chest.”

The department has faced criticism on multiple fronts for its handling of unrest in the city on May 31 as downtown protests turned contentious.

Fort Lauderdale police officer Steven Pohorence was charged with battery after being seen on video shoving a female protester who was kneeling on the ground. Maglione then released bodycam video that shows two other instances where questionable force was used by Pohorence.

In a separate police-worn body camera video released last week, two officers are heard cursing, laughing and appearing to be joking about shooting protesters and potentially injuring them with rubber bullets.

Dietrich becomes the first woman to lead the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

“As I begin this assignment, I will be evaluating our strengths and looking for opportunities to improve our processes,” she said in a video statement. “I will be meeting with various stakeholders, including police unions and members of the public. My door is always open. I look forward to getting started.”

Dietrich has worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years and is the daughter of a former Miami police captain, according to her bio on the department’s website. She was the first woman to become a motorcycle officer in the department and spent time overseeing training at the police academy.

See a replay of a news conference held Thursday discussing the change of leadership:

WATCH LIVE: Fort Lauderdale removes police chief

Fort Lauderdale leaders are discussing the change of leadership atop the city's police department.

Posted by WPLG Local 10 on Thursday, July 9, 2020

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About the Authors:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.