Miami-Dade County Public Schools Police Chief Charles Hurley has been temporarily reassigned from his post amid a pending investigation.
The new acting chief of the department is Maj. Gerald Kitchell, according to a memo sent Monday to Miami-Dade School Board members.
The reshuffling comes in the wake of allegations against Hurley of sexual harassment and putting students in psychiatric care instead of arresting them.
Schools spokesman John Schuster said the school district takes all allegations very seriously.
As a result, an investigation was immediately initiated when an allegation was made concerning Miami-Dade Schools Police. The districts process follows a strict protocol that protects the complainant while ensuring due process for all, and seeks to avoid any distraction from the districts core function, Schuster said.
For these reasons, Chief Charles Hurley has been reassigned pending the outcome of an investigation.
Last week, WSVN-FOX 7 News reported that Hurley was facing allegations of sexual harassment and that his department was using the Baker Act to place students in involuntary psychiatric care instead of arresting them in order to influence crime statistics.
In Florida, the Baker Act allows law enforcement officials to put people who are at risk of harming themselves under temporary detention for evaluation and, if necessary, in a treatment facility.
Reached last week by The Miami Herald, Victor Swift, the attorney representing the female officer who lodged the sexual harassment complaint, said he was in negotiations with the district. He would not comment further. No lawsuit has been filed.
Last week, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said, We take all allegations very seriously. We initiate a process. Then at the conclusion of that process, we report back our findings and we take the appropriate action and thats exactly what were doing.
The police chief is part of the superintendents cabinet. While the School Board does not hire or fire the police chief, Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman said it was prudent for Carvalho to reassign Hurley temporarily.
What I really think is this has become a distraction, Hantman said, adding there are many positive things going on in the district.
Hantman said she has worked with Hurley on student safety measures, like a campaign against texting and driving.
What I know of him, the superintendent has seemed to be very pleased with his performance, Hantman said. We just need to wait it out and see what the outcome is.
Hurleys temporary new position is outside of the police department, according to board members. Hurley was not available for comment.
According to the school police forces website, the new acting police commander, Kitchell, joined the department in 1991. He has served as a school resource officer and rose to be lieutenant of the investigative division, where he supervised criminal and personnel investigations.
As acting chief, Kitchell will oversee a force of about 150 officers and staff and supervise security for the nations fourth-largest school district.