It’s been nearly two years since the last of a series of seven deadly police shootings aroused fear and anger in Miami’s black community. They had good reason to protest the killings and, on top of that, they now have justifiable reason to complain about the delay in a federal investigation into the matter.
To date, the U.S. Department of Justice has failed to report the conclusions in a civil (not criminal) investigation of the shootings, deepening the level of resentment and frustration among those who look to the federal government for answers in these cases.
Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa — who replaced former Chief Miguel Exposito, the department leader at the time of the shootings — has managed to avoid adding fuel to the fire. No new incident has taken place under his watch similar to the wave of shootings that transpired from July, 2010 to February, 2011.
Going a step further, he has signed off on an “action plan” to put in place common-sense changes designed to show that the department is serious about improving its performance. Chief Orosa deserves commendation for trying to stay ahead of the curve, but that doesn’t let the department off the hook.
Creating investigative units to take a deeper look into police shootings, car chases and such is a good idea. So are other steps like adding officers to Internal Affairs and ensuring that officers involved in shootings don’t return to the job without clearance from the chief.
But this won’t, and shouldn’t, satisfy the department’s critics, who feel it must be held accountable for the series of shootings that escalated racial tensions in Miami. They think much more must by done by the Miami PD to regain the community’s trust.
Investigations take time. Even the federal government has limited resources, and no one wants a rush to judgment. But Miami’s citizens have waited patiently to find out if the killings were the result of patterns or practices that may still be in place, which puts lives in jeopardy.
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, who pushed for federal involvement, says she’s satisfied that investigators have boots on the ground and are sifting through the evidence. Good, but it’s time to wrap up this probe.
The second anniversary of the last shooting, that of Travis McNeil, on Feb. 10, 2011, is coming up soon. It’s time to give the people of Miami the answers they’ve been waiting for.