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Miami’s police chief talks to Local 10 about years on job as final day nears

It's the last week for Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina after a 30-year career in law enforcement.
It's the last week for Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina after a 30-year career in law enforcement.

MIAMI, Fla. – In September, Miami’s Chief of Police Jorge Colina said he would be retiring in January. Now, into late February, the city manager has yet to select a replacement. But Colina said that with the city manager indicating news that a chief will be announced with the next two weeks, Colina’s last day will be Friday.

Plans are for the deputy chief to serve as interim until the decision is made for Colina’s replacement.

After three years, Colina has much to reflect on during his last week as the top cop of Miami.

“Even the process of coming in and looking around and saying ‘Good morning’ to people, I am mindful that I won’t be doing that in a couple of days,” Colina said.

In the past year, Colina has had to guide his department through a pandemic, something he said kept him up at night.

(See the interview below: Colina: Leading during pandemic was a challenge)

As he gets ready to retire as Miami's police chief, Jorge Colina talks about being in charge during a pandemic.
As he gets ready to retire as Miami's police chief, Jorge Colina talks about being in charge during a pandemic.

“I struggled with (thoughts of) if I don’t find a way to prepare the department, I could lose X amount of officers under my watch. What can we do? How do we separate officers? How do we handle calls? How do we remain safe? How do I get equipment? I was ultimately pleased with what we were able to do,” Colina said.

He also had to make sure his officers were safeguarding the lives of residents while enforcing New Normal rules amid a public health crisis.

“To have officers tell someone, ‘You can’t be in the park, or you have to separate, or close this restaurant’ when they are already struggling, that was a challenge. I told the officers to please try to issue as many warnings as you can, try to educate people the best you can because people are struggling, they are losing their jobs, people have lost jobs, people have become ill. We have to find that really delicate balance,” Colina said.

Another balancing act? Last summer’s marches for racial equity. He said he wanted to work to protect First Amendment rights of demonstrators, while curtailing property damage. He does believe the department’s officers’ measured response is a model set for other cities.

(See the interview below: Colina: How he guided his department during the summer’s marches for equality.)

As Miami's top cop gets ready for his last day on the job, he reflects on last summer's Black Lives Matter marches and how he coached his officers to keep order.
As Miami's top cop gets ready for his last day on the job, he reflects on last summer's Black Lives Matter marches and how he coached his officers to keep order.

Colina said he told his officers, " ‘Let’s recognize that this is a watershed moment. Let’s recognize that some of these acts are horrific and let’s be mindful if someone wants to lash out.’ "

He said he told his officers that he wanted them to be mindful that any attack wasn’t personal. “It is the uniform that they are not pleased with right now,” he said he would tell them.

His advice for the person the city manager will pick as his successor is to lead with compassion.

“What they should be thinking from Day 1 is ‘Don’t forget you are a public servant.’ "

(See the interview below: Colina: Pieces of advice for successor.)

As Miami's Police Chief Jorge Colina heads into retirement, he has advice for the next chief.
As Miami's Police Chief Jorge Colina heads into retirement, he has advice for the next chief.

And as his 30-year law enforcement comes to a close, he expressed gratitude for his colleagues and the community.

“I do feel that I was meant to be here during this time and I’m glad that I was.”

As his last day nears, Colina is thinking about the future. He said he has plans to launch a private consulting company.

As for who will replace him, we reached out to the City Manager’s office several times and they said they will not disclose to the public who the current finalists are.

  • See who the 8 candidates who stood for public interviews for the job of Miami Police Chief. Click here.

Colina on Twitter @jcolina67

On May 27, Colina tweeted a New York Times story about George Floyd with a post that read: “Do not defend the undefendable, attempt to justify the unjustifiable or excuse the inexcusable. George Floyd should be alive today.”

In June, he tweeted about the real-time crime center, which he brought to the department.

RELATED LINKS

APRIL: Cops are patrolling to make sure orders to prevent coronavirus are followed

JULY: Colina regarding surge in COVID-19: How keeping officers responding to calls amid pandemic

JULY: Got a mask? If you don’t wear it in public, you could owe Miami $100


About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."