Miami Beach appoints Texas cop as deputy police chief

06/17/2014 2:44 PM

06/18/2014 10:41 AM

Miami Beach has selected another outsider for a high-level police department job.

Chief Dan Oates has appointed Lauretta Hill, who last served as deputy police chief of Arlington, Texas, as his deputy chief, the department’s No. 2 job.

The appointment makes Hill the city’s first black deputy chief and its highest-ranking black officer.

“I’ve know about Lauretta for some time and we were able to entice her to join the team here,” Oates said. “I’m very excited that she was available and she was looking for a new opportunity in a new setting.”

Oates said that the current deputy chief, John Buhrmaster, will continue to serve until Hill arrives in August. After that he will be a part of the senior command staff.

Hill’s appointment also made history when she was named deputy chief in Arlington, where she was the first black woman to hold that position.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1993, and started her 20-year career with the city a year later. Arlington, a suburb of Dallas and Fort Worth, has a population of about 375,000.

“I applaud our new chief for making this important and historic appointment,” Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said in a statement. “We are looking forward to even more progressive and pragmatic leadership . . . that keeps our city safe and works for everyone.”

Alex Bello, president of the Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police, said he was “shocked” and “disappointed” by Oates’ decision.

“We’re disappointed that he didn’t give an opportunity for all the current staff within our agency and to learn a little bit more about them,” Bello said.

He pointed out that Oates said he was not going to make any changes during his first 90 days on the job.

“Certainly this doesn’t go hand-in-hand with what Chief Oates said,” Bello said.

Oates said he based his decision on Hill’s “national reputation” and experience supervising security for major sporting events held in Arlington like Super Bowl XLV in 2011 and the 2010 NBA All-Star Game.

“I’m trying to be as smart as I can with all my decisions for the department; I thought this was the best decision for the city,” Oates said.

Oates was chosen to head the police department last month after serving in Aurora, Colo., in the midst of the 2012 movie theater shooting that left 12 people dead and 58 injured. He also served for 21 years in the New York Police Department.

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