New Top Cop: Art Acevedo Sworn In as Latest Miami Police Chief

Art Acevedo will run the 1,400-person department in Miami and is the fifth police chief in the last decade

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Miami Police Department has a new leader after Art Acevedo was sworn in Monday to be the latest man to lead the force.

Acevedo, the Houston police chief who forged a national profile by calling for gun control, marching with protesters after George Floyd's death and criticizing former President Donald Trump, was sworn in during a morning event at the department's college.

"My being here isn't about the job I've done. My being here is about the privilege I've had in leadership and about leading so many men and women," Acevedo said Monday after taking the oath.

Acevedo is leaving the 5,400-person department in Houston -- the fourth-largest in the country which he's led since 2016 -- to run the 1,400-person department in Miami and is its fifth police chief in the last decade.

Over the past year, the 56-year-old Acevedo - who is a registered Republican - has drawn national spotlight for marching with protestors after the death of George Floyd and spoke out against Trump while speaking at the Democratic National Convention.

"You better have a warrior's heart because there's a lot of evil people and evil doers in this world," Acevedo said. "We have to have a mindset of a guardian, but when those shots start being fired, we need to have the heart of a warrior."

Acevedo replaces Jorge Colina, who has spent just over three years on the job but announced in September that he would retire in early 2021.

NBC 6's Willard Shepard's full interview with new Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo on Monday, April 5, 2021.

Acevedo’s salary from city taxpayers will also be much higher than his predecessor’s.

NBC 6 Investigators obtained the offer letter from the city to Chief Acevedo. He’ll be coming into the position making $315,000, with a possible 5% increase in the following years, pending a positive review. 

According to the city’s online portal, staff posted the position with a salary between $195,000 and $230,000. Former Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina confirmed he made around $230,000 when he left. 

That’s unheard of. That’s unheard of. And I don’t believe it’s right,” said city of Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes. 

The high salary is one reason Commissioner Reyes is critical of the new hire. The other was the process by which Acevedo was chose.

NBC 6 Investigators obtained the list of more than 50 other candidates who applied for the job. Chief Acevedo was not on the list, getting the job over eight finalists: five from within the Miami Police Department and others from Philadelphia, New York, and Pittsburgh.

Criticism of the latest hire of Miami police chief Art Acevedo could lead to a new hiring process at Miami city hall. Commissioners will soon debate whether to change the city charter so they get the final say on key public safety positions.

Chief Acevedo was a surprise candidate. Few knew the high profile chief was even being considered until the city recently announced he got the job.

“We don’t need a high profile. We don’t need a super star, using the media to promote himself. What we need is a police officer,” Reyes said. 

City Manager Art Noriega said he made the hire after an introduction from Mayor Francis Suarez, saying Acevedo is one of America’s most well-known police chiefs.

“I simply couldn’t pass on the opportunity to hire a professional of Chief Acevedo’s capability,” Noriega told NBC 6 earlier. 

Acevedo was born in Cuba and is the son of a former police officer in Havana. He immigrated at the age of four and after college spent over two decades with the California Highway Patrol before being named the police chief in Austin, Texas in 2007.

Contact Us