Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Removed From Office

Fort Lauderdale's Chief of Police Rick Maglione reassigned

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Fort Lauderdale's Chief of Police Rick Maglione has been removed from his post, officials announced Thursday.

Assistant Chief Karen Dietrich has been named interim chief, and Maglione will be placed in another capacity.

"I have decided to make a change in leadership at the police department after consulting with our elected leaders, who are supportive of my decision to begin a search for our next police chief, as is custom in any large organization where there is transition," Fort Lauderdale City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said in a statement.

"As Chief Dietrich assumes command, we would like to thank outgoing Chief Rick Maglione. His experience and knowledge of 28 years on the force is valuable to the city. He is staying on for a new role that is yet to be determined."

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Lagerbloom said the decision wasn't based on any single event or "pivotal moment."

Mayor Dean Trantalis said it was time for the department to go in a new direction.

"This is a point in time in which we need a fresh approach and a fresh set of eyes as to how we address critical issues that exist, particularly surrounding the issues of race and law enforcement," Trantalis said at the news conference. "We must confront these issues head-on. I know we can do better."

Fort Lauderdale's police department has come under scrutiny in recent weeks for a series of incidents involving officers at demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Body camera footage released last week showed Fort Lauderdale officers laughing and celebrating after shooting rubber bullets at one protest in which a Black woman was hit in the face and seriously injured.

LaToya Ratlieff suffered head injuries after she was hit in the face with a rubber bullet during the demonstration.

"I commend the city for taking this important first step in the right direction," Ratlieff said in response to Maglione's reassignment. "Fort Lauderdale needs a Chief of Police who is committed to bringing about the change that is needed within the department."

A Fort Lauderdale police officer was charged with battery during that same protest after video showed he pushed a kneeling woman to the ground.

Witnesses said the peaceful gathering took an angry turn after that and protesters responded by throwing bottles. The officer’s colleagues quickly pushed him away from the woman and down the street.

Maglione said last week that the department was conducting an exhaustive review of nearly 8,000 minutes of body camera footage, with a report to be completed within the next month.

“The entire video clearly demonstrates our officers were under attack by a group of people who chose to use violence instead of peace to antagonize the situation,” Maglione said in a statement.

“Although the language is extreme, and offensive to some, our officers were dealing with the chaos of a developing situation.”

Editorial note: A previous headline incorrectly stated that Maglione had been relieved of duty. He is being reassigned within the department.

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