Miami Beach Commissioner Ed Tobin has finally realized his boyhood dream of becoming a police officer. But he won’t patrol the city where he grew up.
Tobin, who last year aborted a high-profile bid to become a Beach cop, was sworn in as a Miami police officer Friday morning with 18 other recruits during a 10:30 a.m. ceremony at the Miami Police College. He had about three weeks left on his second and final four-year term on the Miami Beach Commission, but resigned 5 p.m. Thursday due to a Florida law that prohibits holding two sworn positions at one time.
The normally outspoken Tobin declined interviews after being sworn in, saying only, “I’m very happy today,” and referring all questions to the department’s communications office. He hugged his daughter, son and wife, and shared a private conversation with Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates, who attended the ceremony.
“You’ve come a long way to get to the beginning,” Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes told Tobin and the other new recruits just a few minutes earlier. “This is the beginning of a new career, of a new life.”
Just shy of his 54th birthday, Tobin was easily the senior-most member of Friday’s rookie class and is several years older than Llanes. He will spend the next six months with a field training officer before going solo. He has already served as a Broward County prosecutor and recently ran his own private constitutional law and criminal defense practice, which like his commission post he has given up to join law enforcement.
Tobin is best known, though, as a sharp-tongued Miami Beach commissioner prone to crusades. He often opined on how to fix the city’s troubled police department, pushing hard in 2011 to bring in Bal Harbour Police Chief Tom Hunker as Miami Beach’s top cop before Hunker’s money-laundering task force came under a cloud of Justice Department scrutiny.
Tobin, who graduated from the Miami Police Academy in 2011, is becoming a Miami cop after abruptly withdrawing an application last year to get hired in Miami Beach. The city commission voted to allow him to apply, but he abandoned his boyhood wish of becoming a Beach cop after stumbling on an oral exam question about whether he would report a partner who walked into a burglarized convenience store and opened a soda and bag of potato chips with no plans to pay for the snacks.
Tobin’s hiring came with extra media attention, but Llanes said he’s not worried about Tobin’s high profile, which the former politician seemed eager to shed Friday in turning away reporters and a television crew.
“Once he hits the streets he's no longer a commissioner. He's a rookie,” Llanes said. “He’s Officer Tobin.”
After declining interviews, Tobin took some photos with his family and hugged a few friends who’d come to show support. He laughed about the police academy being the most fun he’d had since college. But he also understood the difficult task ahead.
“Now,” he told a friend, “is the tough part.”