Matthew Boyd is stepping down as Miami Gardens’ police chief, City Manager Cameron D. Benson announced Wednesday, as the department is under scrutiny for its "Zero Tolerance Policy."
On Tuesday the Florida NAACP asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Miami Gardens Police Department’s policy, which it says could be the cause of racial profiling.
That move came after a convenience store owner said his employees and customers are being targeted by police for aggressive questioning and petty arrests.
The city manager issued a statement on the issues confronting the police department as he announced the change in its leadership, which took effect Wednesday.
“The City of Miami Gardens continues to strive to implement effective policies and procedures that are productive and beneficial for the safety and welfare of our residents, businesses and patrons. The City’s 10-year track record upholds this philosophy and we will continue along this path," Benson said. "To that end, I am announcing new leadership in our City’s Police Department."
Miami Gardens has also seen a high number of shootings recently.
Boyd, the only police chief in Miami Gardens' brief history, previously planned to retire in January, the Miami Herald reported.
An aide for Boyd said he had no comment, referring a phone call from NBC 6 to the city manager’s office.
Benson insisted that the allegations involving officers' actions at the 207 Quickstop convenience store and the city's wave of shootings were not connected to Boyd's sudden departure.
"He just felt like moving on earlier than anticipated, was probably the best for the city,” Benson told reporters.
Boyd served for 24 years in the Miami-Dade Police Department, retiring as a major. In his last assigment there he was the district commander for the area that is now Miami Gardens.
He was appointed as the city's police chief in December 2006. The department became operational a year later.
Benson said in his statement that the Florida Police Chiefs Association will help him recruit and hire a new police chief.
In the meantime, Deputy Police Chief Paul Miller will serve as interim chief.
“I know you all have reported on some issues that we’re having as of late, including some allegations, and what I can tell you is that we’re going to be very transparent in our process,” Miller said.
But he wouldn’t comment on the allegations Wednesday – saying that they are under investigation, and that there is pending litigation against the department.
Miller wished Boyd well, thanking him for his seven years of service to the city of Miami Gardens and its residents. He said Boyd’s departure was a loss.
Miller joined the Miami Gardens force in December 2006 as major of the Investigations Division. Before that he spent 19 years with Miami-Dade Police, working assignments in the homicide, auto theft and public corruption units, among others.
Miller holds a bachelor's degree in public administration from Barry University, and a master's degree in homeland security from the Naval Post-Graduate School.
The NAACP's call for an investigation came after Alex Saleh, the owner of the 207 Quickstop on 207th Street, claimed the police department was conducting illegal stops and searches and racial profiling at his convenience store, according to the Herald.
His employee Earl Sampson has been arrested dozens of times, stopped and questioned by police 258 times in four years, the newspaper reported. Sampson has been searched more than 100 times and jailed 56 times, according to the Herald.
“Rest assured that our department is fully committed to complying with the laws that govern us," Boyd said in a statement then.
He added that Miami Gardens Police are committed to "exceeding the expectations of those that rely on us, and providing the best possible service to the residents of this great City."
Benson reiterated that the city is moving ahead with in-depth internal investigation, in conjunction with the State Attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
"In the upcoming weeks, I will conduct regular meetings with the command staff and attend all operational shift briefings," Benson said in his statement. "It is my goal to personally address the entire force and reinforce our commitment to effectively serving the residents of the City of Miami Gardens."