Miami Beach City Manager Jorge Gonzalez made it official Thursday, announcing his selection of interim police chief Raymond Martinez as the permanent leader of the department.
Martinez, 53, a 32-year police veteran, was appointed “based on who had the ability to best manage the necessary reforms in the police department,” Gonzalez wrote in a memo to Mayor Matti Herrera Bower and the City Commission.
Martinez’s predecessor and former boss, Carlos Noriega, retired after several scandals in his tenure, including that of an-duty police officer who was accused of taking a drunken ATV joyride on South Beach last 4th of July weekend, seriously injuring two vacationing bystanders he plowed into with the vehicle.
“The reforms that have already been implemented in our Police Department over the past six months have proven to me that the right leadership to effect change can, indeed, be found from within,” Gonzalez wrote of Martinez, who took over on an interim basis in November. “Assistant Chief Martinez brings a combination of experience within the organization from his tenure, with the benefit of over 22 years of police experience from outside the City of Miami Beach. As a decorated military veteran and a police officer injured twice in the line of duty, Assistant Chief Martinez brings an understanding of fundamental policing, with the much-added benefit of management and administrative experience.”
Gonzalez said an interview panel unanimously approved recommending the appointment of Martinez as chief and Hialeah Police Chief Mark Overton as Miami Beach’s deputy police chief on March 6.
The City Commission meets Wednesday, when it will decide whether to give its consent to Martinez’ appointment.
Martinez was second in command under Noriega. Earlier this week Gus Sanchez, the vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, disagreed with Martinez’s hiring, telling The Miami Herald that Martinez “has been part of the problem for 10 years.”
Martinez, who has been emphasizing community policing, said in a statement Thursday that he feels “humbled and privileged” to be chosen by Gonzalez for the position “after an arduous and comprehensive selection process that included so many other qualified candidates.” There were 79 in all.
“My charge is to bring reform to the department and build public trust and confidence in the fine men and women of the Miami Beach Police Department,” Martinez said. “I am excited to take on this challenge, and I look forward to continuing to serve the residents, businesses and visitors of this community in this new capacity.”