Miami-Dade County Commission Moves Quickly Toward Police Oversight

Dozens of citizens spoke up in a virtual public meeting on a resolution to further scrutinize police policies and procedures involving use of force.

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Many of the same protesters recently seen on South Florida streets protesting police misconduct added their voice in the public square in a different way Tuesday, through a Zoom meeting of a Miami-Dade County commission committee.

The public safety and rehabilitation committee, usually a pretty dry affair, on Tuesday saw dozens of public speakers letting commissioners know they have to move against what many called unaccountable police.

The resolution on the agenda, in addition to expressing shock at the death of George Floyd and sympathy for his family, orders the mayor to produce a report that describes police "practices, policies, and procedures related to arrests, custody, physical restraint, and use of force."

Police director Alfredo Ramirez said he welcomed a chance to share the information, which others noted is public record anyway and available to the commission.

But sponsor Barbara Jordan said she wanted the vote demanding a formal submission to coincide with another matter on next week's full commission agenda: the resurrection of an independent civilian review panel to look at complaints of police misconduct.

The panel disbanded in 2009 after a budget crunch led to it being defunded, but the alleged murder of Floyd at the hands of police, and the outrage it has generated, has breathed new life into the effort to monitor police more closely.

"Law enforcement," Jordan said, "You do have a lot of review processes but they're all law enforcement. It's the fox watching the hen house. We need to have a citizens' process of involvement."

The committee voted unanimously to fast track the proposal for next Tuesday's commission meeting.

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