Miami Beach

Miami Beach’s new police chief won’t start ‘making changes for the sake of change’

Dan Oates will assume the mantle of Miami Beach police chief in June, but said he will take his time getting to know the quirks of his new city.

Miami Beach commissioners unanimously selected Dan Oates Wednesday to be the next police chief of the island city of 90,000.

“He is a great cop, a fine leader and knows how to work with all communities,” City Manager Jimmy Morales wrote in a memo to his bosses.

Morales nominated Oates for the post after speaking to numerous references.

“He is focused on integrity and transparency, and has been a game changer wherever he has gone,” Morales wrote.

Oates received widespread acclaim for leading the Aurora, Colo. Police Department in the wake of a shooting in a movie theater that left 12 dead and 58 others injured. Prior to that, he was chief in Ann Arbor, Michigan and served for 21 years in the New York Police Department, eventually becoming a deputy chief there.

Commissioner Ed Tobin called Oates’ credentials “impeccable.”

He replaces Chief Raymond Martinez, who announced his early retirement last month.

Immediately after his selection Wednesday, Oates said he’ll now focus on getting an understanding of the city and the department.

“I’ve taken over enough organizations to know that it takes time and patience to learn the community and the organization before you can go about making change,” said Oates, who will earn $207,500 annually. “And you don’t want to go about making change for the sake of change.”

He added: “I know that fundamentally it’s a very sound needs some image work and some leadership, and with the help of the community, I think we can get there.”

Alex Bello, president of Miami Beach’s Fraternal Order of Police, said the union would welcome Oates when he joins the department with its 370 sworn officers.

Bello called Miami Beach “a very challenging, diverse community,” that hosts major events almost every weekend.

“I think that’s a new dynamic he’ll have to deal with,” Bello said.

The union wants the next police chief to have greater freedom to speak to the media about high-profile incidents — such as the recent death of a teen after being zapped by a Beach officer with a Taser.

“The two former chiefs, Carlos Noriega and Ray, have both been censored by City Hall,” Bello said. “And when we have incidents like the instance with the taser, we need to come out in front of that and explain what the situation was.”

Bello also hopes the new chief will address the issue of developing future department leaders from within.

“Obviously when people are brought in from the outside, it does impact the men and women who are aspiring to move up the ladder,” Bello said.

Follow @Cveiga on Twitter.