Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

New Miami Gardens chief will be first woman to lead the city’s police force

Delma Noel-Pratt has been selected as Miami Gardens’ police chief.
Delma Noel-Pratt has been selected as Miami Gardens’ police chief. Miami Gardens Police Department

After months of searching, Miami Gardens has a new police chief, and she will be the first woman to hold the permanent job in the department’s history.

Delma Noel-Pratt, Miami-Dade Special Investigations Division chief, was chosen out of a field of more than 20 applicants, City Manager Cameron Benson announced.

“I had identified a top 11 and out of that top 11, when I talked to Delma, she was the one that kept rising to the top,” Benson said.

Noel-Pratt, a 24-year law enforcement veteran, said she wants to bring a three-prong approach to policing in the city, including putting more uniformed patrol officers in the field, increasing high visibility community policing and utilizing strategic enforcement zones.

She said she welcomes the challenge of leading the city which, despite a decrease in several categories of serious crimes, still deals with a number of shootings, homicides and other violent crimes.

“I wanted to be a change agent for the better and I saw this as an opportunity to lend my skills to the police department,” Noel-Pratt said.

The new chief started as a public service aide in the Miami police department and eventually became an officer with Miami-Dade police in 1993. She moved up the ranks to become a sergeant and captain, working in the public corruption investigations bureau.

In 2012 she became a major working the Kendall District. In 2013 she was promoted to division chief of the North Operations Division.

She is the first woman to lead the department in a permanent role. Cynthia Machanic, a 30-year law enforcement veteran, has been interim chief since former chief Antonio Brooklen resigned last September.

Noel-Pratt will be the city’s fourth police chief since 2013. Benson hopes she can break the cycle of controversial exits by the city’s top cops and boost morale in the department.

“I liked that she was excited about being part of the team and building a team,” Benson said.

Stephen Johnson, who was chief for less than a year, was fired in February 2015 after he was arrested in a Broward Sheriff’s Office prostitution sting. Brooklen replaced him and eventually resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Before Johnson and Brooklen, the last full-time chief was Matthew Boyd, who stepped down shortly after the owner of the 207 Quickstop convenience store alleged in a lawsuit that Miami Gardens police officers routinely harassed his employees and customers. The Miami Herald first reported on the lawsuit in November 2013, and Boyd resigned the next month.

Noel-Pratt will officially move into the position May 1.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3