More than 30 local community organizations have joined in coalition to support civilian oversight of Miami-Dade police, along with more than 6,000 petition signatories and 17 candidates running for county offices
MIAMI, FL – Over 30 civil rights groups and thousands of residents call for the reinstatement of a civilian oversight panel for the Miami-Dade police department as demands for police accountability continue to grow nationwide. The Miami-Dade Commission voted in favor of reviving a civilian oversight panel in the effort to properly investigate incidents of police brutality and excessive force last month.
On Wednesday, the commission will meet for a second vote that is needed to bring the new entity, to be called the Independent Civilian Panel, into existence. At the same meeting, the commission will also vote on a resolution seeking to place an amendment to the County Charter on the November ballot, which, if approved by the voters, will guarantee that civilian oversight of police will become a permanent part of county government.
The ACLU of Florida Greater Miami Chapter, joined by the two South Florida branches of the NAACP, the New Florida Majority, the Spanish American League against Doscrimination (SALAD), PULSE, MCCJ and 27 other organizations have joined in coalition to demand that commissioners ensure that civilian oversight is restored to Miami-Dade, that it is appropriately funded, and that it is authorized to investigate police misconduct, review law enforcement policies and patterns and practices, and conduct alternative dispute resolution proceedings, among other measures. On Change.org, more than 6,000 residents have also demonstrated their support for this initiative.
“Our county, like so many others across the country, has failed to provide meaningful avenues for Black and brown communities -- indeed, for all elements of our diverse community -- seeking justice and accountability from instances of police brutality,” said Jeanne Baker, Chair of the Police Practices Committee of the ACLU of Miami Chapter.
Enactment of the Independent Civilian Panel “will bring community oversight of the police in this county into the 21st century,” said Dwight Bullard, president of the South Dade NAACP and political director of New Florida Majority. “This is a good first step on a long road to repairing the strained relationship between the community and law enforcement,” he added.
Stratton Pollitzer, Deputy Director of Equality Florida, who has served on the coalition steering committee since its inception, emphasized that “the LGBT community has a long history of being targeted by police and experiencing police misconduct. Equality Florida stands in strong support of the proposed civilian oversight ordinance and charter amendment.”
As part of this movement for meaningful reform, the coalition sent out questionnaires seeking support for civilian oversight to all local candidates running for county offices. Of the 30 sent out, the following 17 candidates responded with support for civilian oversight: Daniella Levine Cava (for Mayor); Alex Penelas (for Mayor); Brian Dennis (for Dt.3); Monester Lee-Kinsler (for Dt. 3); Tisa McGhee (for Dt. 3);) Gepsie Metellus (for Dt. 3); Eileen Higgins (for Dt. 5); Cindy Lerner (for Dt. 7); Mark Coates (for Dt. 9); Marlon Hill (for Dt. 9); Johnny Farias (for Dt. 9); Robert Ascencio (for Dt. 11); Adrian Jimenex (for Dt. 13); Melba Pearson (for State Attorney); and Katherine Fernandez-Rundle (for State Attorney). The coalition hopes that other candidates will still respond.
The full list of community organizations supporting this movement is: ACLU of Miami; Brownsville Civic Neighborhood Assoc.; Catalyst; Community Justice Project; COSMOS; Dream Defenders; Engage Miami; Equality Florida; FANM; Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees; League of Women Voters, Miami-Dade County; FLIC; HAGC; Latino Justice; Miami Workers Center; MCCJ; NAACP (Miami-Dade and South Dade Branches); N.A.N.A.; New Florida Majority; NLG of South Florida; Power U; Pridelines; PULSE; S.A.L.A.D; Sant La (Haitian Neighborhood Center); SAVE; South Florida People of Color; TAP; Temple Beth Sholom Miami Beach; Unity Coalition; UP-PAC; Wilkie Ferguson Jr. Bar Association; 350 South Florida.