Miami Beach Commissioner Ed Tobin will finally realize his childhood dream of becoming a cop. It just won't be in the city where he grew up.
Tobin, a former prosecutor, officially becomes a Miami police officer Friday. He will be sworn in during a 10:30 a.m. He had about three weeks left on his final term on the Miami Beach Commission, but resigned at 5 p.m. Thursday due to a Florida law that prohibits holding two sworn positions at one time.
“Once he hits the streets he's no longer a commissioner. He's a rookie,” said Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes. “He's Officer Tobin.”
Tobin, who is just shy of his 54th birthday, graduated from the Miami police academy four years ago, and was quietly vetted by the department along with scores of other recruits over the better part of seven months. His swearing-in comes just days before an election to replace him on the Miami Beach Commission, and amid a hard push by the city of Miami to boost its department past 1,300 sworn officers.
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Once he hits the streets he's no longer a commissioner. He's a rookie
Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes
In a text, Tobin referred a reporter Thursday morning to Miami's public information office, saying he worried about running afoul of the department's rules regarding the press.
“I think you need to go through PIO before I can speak,” he wrote. “We haven't been briefed on policy yet but that's my best guess.”
An attorney by trade, Tobin says he has wanted to be a police officer since he was a teenager participating in the Miami Beach Police Explorers program. He asked his colleagues on the Miami Beach Commission last year to vote to allow him to resign his position and take a job as a Beach cop, and the vote went his way.
Tobin applied to earn a job on the force. But he withdrew his interest just weeks later. He said he made the decision in the best interest of himself and his family, but city sources said Tobin pulled out after he fared poorly on a verbal exam question that dealt with ethics.
At the time, Tobin said he did not want to discuss the specifics of any of the interview questions to protect the application process. Miami Beach police have released a heavily redacted a copy of Tobin's application, but the portion detailing his performance on the oral exam was blacked out.
I was turning 50 and looking at my belly, and this was cheaper than a Ferrari or a mistress
Miami Beach Commissioner Ed Tobin, on enrolling in the Miami Police Academy in 2011
Tobin is joining the Miami Police force amid a heavy push to add officers as veteran members of the force prepare to retire. The city has hired at least 140 officers this year, and Llanes and City Manager Daniel Alfonso have said they are hiring as fast as they can without lowering the standards for new recruits.
Despite the alleged ethics lapse in Miami Beach, Llanes said Tobin passed a battery of psychological and physical tests. The city’s vetting process includes two polygraph tests. Llanes said a question about whether there should be concerns with Tobin’s aborted bid to become a Beach cop was “unfair.”
“If he passed our backgrounding and screening process, I trust he's a viable candidate,” Llanes said.
Detective Frederica Burden, a police spokeswoman who also officiates academy graduation ceremonies, said Tobin has been eligible for weeks to be sworn in but had to wait until there was a larger class whose ceremony he could join. She said that, starting Friday, Tobin will be a Miami officer, though he’ll have to partner with a field training officer for half a year.
“That's six months,” she said. “Then he goes solo.”