The independent monitor tasked with assessing Miami's compliance with a federal policing agreement indicated Monday that she believes the city's police department is on the right track, and an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice pledged to improve communication with the public.
Jane Castor, former police chief of Tampa, told a civilian oversight board created as part of the Miami Police Department's agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice that she expects the department will fully comply with the compact before a 2020 deadline. Under the terms of the agreement — crafted as the result of a spate of Miami police shootings deemed questionable in 2013 by federal investigators — the department can remove itself from Justice supervision if it has complied with all the stipulations of the agreement for one continuous year.
“It is, I believe, a three- or four-year project. I don't foresee that it's going to take that long,” Castor said during a meeting at Shenandoah Park.
Castor will be paid up to $125,000 a year to look over the department's shoulder. She was supposed to issue her first report in July — and second in November — but said Monday that a delay that resulted in her contract being finalized last week also delayed the issuance of her first report on the department's progress.
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That delay has created some frustration among activists who monitor the police department as well as some members of the committee. While asking Castor to discuss her progress, board member Justin Pinn mentioned that he was getting his information from the Miami Herald, which reported Friday on the delays.
"I do think a lot of issues can be improved through communication," Castor said, adding that her first report, which is to be issued every four months, has bounced back and forth with Justice officials and should be finalized and made public by next month.
When asked by a board member if she would make her draft available, Castor said she would not and asserted that the drafts of the report are not public record.
Patrick Kent, a trial attorney for the Department of Justice, said he came Monday night to express the department's similar interest in being more forthcoming with the board.
“We understand the board's frustration,” he said. “That's part of the reason we're here today, just to have better communication.”