Miami Oversight Panel For County Police Could Be Revived

Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Jordan

As the nationwide calls for police reform intensify, Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Jordan is again attempting to have an oversight panel for county police. In 2018, Jordan tabled legislation for an oversight panel, but the measure was vetoed by Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The legislation proposed by Jordan, according to a Miami Herald report, would allow county commissioners to appoint oversight members, which was something Giminez indicated he would support when he vetoed the original bill.

The Miami-Dade Commission is scheduled to vote on the proposed legislation on June 14. The timing of the vote is opportune, coming in the environment of local protests and demand for police reform following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, who was killed when a police officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for approximately 9 minutes.

The proposed legislation, according to the report, grants the oversight panel authority to investigate any county employee, and gives the board subpoena power.

Steadman Stahl, president of Miami-Dade’s police union, was reported as saying he wants to see the details of the legislation before announcing a position, but the union could accept a review panel under the right set of rules.

“We usually find very little gets accomplished with them,” he said of the oversight boards. “If it does make the public feel comfortable and our officers’ rights are protected, we can work with anything. But we want to be part of the process.”

The panel would not have disciplinary powers but would publish reports on complaints after public hearings. Appointees to the panel are likely to include police officers.  

Commissioner Jordan’s Chief of Staff Andre Ragin told the Miami Herald, a revived oversight panel with commission-appointed panel members would mean “broad representation for the community and a much-needed voice for the community.”

A previous oversight panel existed but stopped functioning after it was defunded in 2009 during the budget constraints of the then recession. Mayor Giminez has given assurance that if the panel is revived, he would propose budgetary support for it. 

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