It's about time Political Cortadito: Miami-Dade moves forward with police reform post Floyd protests

Political Cortadito:

Miami-Dade moves forward with police reform post Floyd protests


It’s about time.
It took the murder of yet another black man at the hands of police, this time it was George Floydin Minneapolis, to come to this. It took the tear gassing of peaceful protesters exercising their right to denounce the brutal killing. It took the arrest of passionate student demonstrators, sitting on the sidewalk in front of Florida International University, met with a police state-like response one would see in Cuba or China.
But, finally, and arguably too late, county leaders are talking about police reform like it’s the new cool kid at school you wanna be best friends with.
Last week, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Chairwoman Audrey Edmonson made a breathless announcement that they were going to support Commissioner Barbara Jordan‘s longtime effort to create an independent civilian panel to review complaints and incidents when the police se las pasan. Because they do. Not all the time. Not even usually in most places. But sometimes. And too many times in some places.
It’s up for a vote at Tuesday’s commission meeting — and how much do you wanna bet it’s unanimous?
But Gimenez wasn’t keen on the idea two years ago, when he vetoed legislation sponsored and passed by Jordan  to reinstate the board, which hasn’t been active since around 2010. He said it was because he wanted the members of the board to be appointed solely by commissioners and not by community organizations and stakeholders. In other words, he wants to stack it with handpicked lackeys.
And now that Jordan has real leverage and doesn’t have to compromise, she is?
Her 2018 version of the panel was to have nine members, five nominated — and approval by the commission required by five community groups: The Community Relations Board, the Community Action Agency, the Miami-Dade County League of Women Voters, the Miami-Dade Bar Association and the Miami-Dade Chiefs of Police Association. Those five members would then nominate four more.
The new version has 13 members, one appointed by each commissioner.  “However consideration should be given to appointing a retired member of the judiciary, judge or magistrate, and retired or active professionals in the following fields: (1) human resources; (2) faith-based; (3) social justice; and (4) law enforcement,” the ordinance reads.
But it’s not the only change from the 2017 version of the panel. This panel also won’t be able to request the sworn testimony of the supervisor of Miami-Dade Police’s internal affairs unit.
So, basically, they are taking away any pretense of independence and/or teeth. What is it going to be good for? Is it going to be like another ethics commission, without any real power?
Ladra has another idea? How about we force Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez-Rundle to do her job? Why do we need a civilian panel to investigate police abuse? Why isn’t there a whole unit at the SAO just for that? To investigate not only county police complaints but also questionable arrests and police action in other cities. Although they may get tied up too much with Sweetwater and Hialeah.
It won’t be the only talk about police abuse of power.
Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo will present a resolution establishing county policy that would prohibit the Miami-Dade Police Department from hiring any sworn officer who has been the subject of a sustained finding or an adjudication of unauthorized or improper force as a result of action taken while serving as a sworn police officer.
“The tragic death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man in Minneapolis, Minnesota who was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a police officer’s knee for almost 9 minutes during an arrest, has reignited a national conversation about policing, community relationships, and the necessity of use of force in the context of police action,” said a press release from his office.
“Sworn police officers are given a significant amount of authority and responsibility, and the potential for abuse of that authority should not be ignored,” Bovo said. “My legislation ensures the Miami-Dade Police Department is not hiring officers who have been the subject of a sustained finding or an adjudication of unauthorized or improper force.”
“We are blessed to have one of the best police departments in the nation, and we must preserve our reputation with accountability and transparency.”
There will be push-back from the police union and other law enforcement groups. There already is.
Already on Monday, the Miami-Dade Police Department issued an open letter to the community about their policies, which include a ban on chokeholds and strongholds and a duty to intervene if another officer uses excessive force. The department cited other policies, such as “exhaust all alternatives before shooting,” which seems like something they shouldn’t have to put in writing.
“While we have come a long way through the years, we realize that there is more work to be done, and we are committed to working in partnership with our community to be the model law enforcement organization in the nation by being responsive and blending strategic planning with community concerns,” the letter ends.
The model of law enforcement? Really? The model of law enforcement doesn’t arrest peaceful protesters sitting on the sidewalk, like they did earlier this month with four FIU students .
Why would any department with nothing to fear be against a civilian review panel? Their argument — that the panel would not be accountable and could persecute officers for no good reason — is thin. Civilian review panels already exist in municipalities across the nation, including the city of Miami.
We used to have one in Miami-Dade, too. Then the commission decided not to fund it in 2009.
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