Miami-Dade County

Former Tampa police chief to monitor Miami settlement with Justice Department

Former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, seen during a press conference on Aug. 17, 2011. Castor has been tabbed to monitor a settlement between the city off Miami and U.S. Department of Justice.
Former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, seen during a press conference on Aug. 17, 2011. Castor has been tabbed to monitor a settlement between the city off Miami and U.S. Department of Justice. AP

A proposed civil rights settlement released Wednesday shows the U.S. Department of Justice will spend the next four years monitoring how the Miami Police Department trains and supervises its officers, investigates police shootings and operates its specialized units.

The agreement — made public ahead of a vote next week by the Miami City Commission — seeks to resolve the harsh findings of a 2011 federal investigation into 33 police shootings. The settlement runs until March 15, 2020, and calls on retired Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor to serve as an independent monitor of the city’s compliance.

“This agreement is the product of a continued cooperative effort built on the parties’ mutual commitment to constitutional policing,” the settlement states.

Justice and city of Miami lawyers have been negotiating the agreement since July 2013, when the federal agency’s investigation of Miami police shootings found that officers’ use of force had violated the Constitution. A tentative agreement was announced Friday by U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer during a visit to Miami by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, but the details of the settlement remained private until Wednesday.

Everything that they requested has been done.

Mayor Tomás Regalado

According to the 92 stipulations in the newly published document, Miami’s 1,300-member police force must prove over the next four years that it has appropriately deployed its specialized units, such as the SWAT team, and sufficiently monitored their operations and who becomes members on those teams.

Police supervisors must be “held accountable” for officers under their watch. And officers must receive firearm training that “incorporates and emphasizes de-escalation training and techniques.”

The settlement also lays out standards for the department’s handling of police-involved shootings, although it acknowledges that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement now handles those investigations for Miami. Also acknowledged: most conditions in the settlement already are in place by Miami police.

“Everything that they requested has been done. They just wanted to make sure they will continue,” said Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.

Miami police will have one month from the signing of the agreement to submit an action plan to the Department of Justice. A series of reports on the department’s progress will be required every few months, and the city’s progress will be monitored by Castor, who retired last year after six years as Tampa police chief.

Castor did not return calls Wednesday. Her own department was scrutinized by the Justice Department after a Tampa Bay Times investigation found last year that Tampa officers were encouraged to stop and cite bicycle riders in black neighborhoods as a means to investigate criminal activity.

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