For the second time in 18 months, Miami’s police chief has agreed to forgo his retirement and stick around a little longer.
Rodolfo “Rudy” Llanes was scheduled to step down Tuesday. Instead, Llanes will continue to oversee Miami’s 1,300-member police department through the end of March, delaying months of speculation about who’d be tapped to replace him — and whether Miami’s next mayor would be stuck with a police chief he or she didn’t want.
City Manager Daniel Alfonso announced Llanes’ contract extension in a Friday memo to city commissioners. He told the Miami Herald that it didn’t make sense to name a new chief with voters selecting a new mayor in less than a month.
It’s important for me to stick it out until after the election just to make a smooth transition to the next administration
Rodolfo “Rudy” Llanes, police chief
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“I don’t think it’s fair that, with the change in administration possibly looming in the near future, that I would name a police chief without the benefit of having the new mayor kind of opine or weigh in,” said Alfonso, who is publicly looking for a new job. “It’s important to have this position, which is very important to the city of Miami, be something done in consultation with the elected folks running the city.”
Llanes’ extension follows weeks of internal discussions about whether to name a new chief. Outgoing Mayor Tomás Reglado had leaned on Alfonso to name Assistant Chief Dennis Jackson as Llanes’ successor, according to sources familiar with the discussions, but Miami’s police union favored keeping Llanes on temporarily.
Alfonso said he has not discussed the police chief’s position with Commissioner Francis Suarez, the overwhelming favorite to win the Nov. 7 mayor’s election. Llanes, who had planned to quickly jump to a new job selling yachts and initially hedged on delaying his retirement again, said continuity in the department trumped his post-department job opportunity.
“I do have a job lined up and my prospective employer is not happy that I’m sticking around,” said Llanes. “I think I can repair that relationship.”
Llanes is a 30-year veteran of the department. He was named chief by Alfonso in December of 2014, and kept on past his predetermined Oct. 10, 2016 retirement date, working on a employment contract while earning a $130,000 pension. His $201,245 salary will not change.
Since Llanes’ first extension, the department has dealt with some public tumult over the disappearance of guns from a department property room and the discovery that evidence from death investigations had been stored for years in a deteriorating outdoor locker. But he has also steered the department through a policing agreement with the Department of Justice, overseen a drop in homicides, and managed to mostly keep the peace with a cantankerous police union.
“It’s important for me to stick it out until after the election just to make a smooth transition to the next administration,” Llanes said. “That’s important for the continuity of the police department.”