North Miami - NMB

North Miami’s new top cop is a familiar face with decades of experience

After a few weeks as North Miami’s interim police chief, Gary Eugene was chosen for the permanent position. He took over May 24 after the resignation of Leonard Burgess.
After a few weeks as North Miami’s interim police chief, Gary Eugene was chosen for the permanent position. He took over May 24 after the resignation of Leonard Burgess. City of North Miami

When North Miami began its search for a replacement for its retiring police chief, Leonard Burgess, city officials said they planned to hire from within the department. This week, the city announced it was sticking with its recently appointed interim chief.

Gary Eugene, 59, who has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, was named as the permanent police chief Thursday.

He was chosen as the interim chief about three weeks ago after Burgess announced his retirement. Burgess spent a total of about a decade with the department on two separate occasions in the 1980s and from 2010 until his retirement, including about two years as chief.

City Manager Larry Spring said that command staff and other officers told him that it would keep morale high in the department if the new chief came from in-house.

“I have full confidence that Chief Eugene will continue to move the department forward and I am pleased to be working alongside a former colleague from the City of Miami,” Spring said in a press release.

Eugene joined the North Miami police department in 2013 and was appointed assistant chief in 2014. Before that, he was a trailblazer with the Miami police department, where he started in 1985 and rose up the ranks to become, successively, the first Haitian-American sergeant, lieutenant, captain and commander in the department’s history.

Burgess didn’t remain retired for long. He is now serving as Miramar’s assistant police chief.

Eugene will be the city’s third police chief since 2014. Before Burgess, Marc Elias held the position but he resigned in February 2014 amid criticism of his use of about $14,000 in city funds to pay for seven trips to Haiti.

At a recent City Council meeting, Eugene thanked council members for their trust and said he expects a smooth transition for the department.

“I want to appease your fears about your city,” Eugene said. “For 31 years I never failed in my assignment and I do not expect to fail as your police chief.”

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