Several officers with City of Miami police expressed their frustrations Thursday with the department, claiming there is a lack of leadership and a problem with promoting black male officers into executive positions.
Seasoned Miami police officers Sgt. Stanley Jean-Poix and Lt. Ramon Carr told NBC 6 that black male officers are severely underrepresented in the department, especially in Chief Jorge R. Colina's management team. Out of a staff of 35 executives, three are black men.
"We would like to see the chief removed and possibly the police department to a nationwide search or at least an internal process," said Jean-Poix, who is also the president of the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association (MCPBA), an officer advocacy group with predominant African-American membership.
"If the community really understood the back story of what's going on in the police department, they would really be surprised," said Carr, who is vice president of the MCPBA.
But Colina pushed back on the allegations in a phone interview with NBC 6.
"I believe the motivation is that they're not happy that I have promoted black females," he said. "And I know that because they've told me, 'We want you to promote males, not females,' well, I'm sorry I don't function that way."
Including women, there nine African Americans are on Colina's executive staff.
"We have several black females in leadership here and to say that we are not counted because we are not male is definitely a slap in the face," said Officer Cherise Gause, a 26-year veteran who was recently promoted to assistant chief.
In a Friday news conference, the officers said the chief was trying to put black men and women in the department against each other.
The MCPBA also claimed there is a lack of leadership and a dwindling group of veteran officers in units such as homicide, internal affairs and training.
"When you don't have maturity at those levels, especially at the senior command staff level, then you are going to have a problem with your police department," Carr said.
In the city of Miami, 71% of residents are Hispanic, 15% are black and 10% are white. In comparison, police department's officers are 65% Hispanic, 26% black and 8% white.