Miami’s next police chief is a veteran with a goal to reduce gun violence

New Miami Police Department chief is introduced

Jorge Colina, the city of Miami's new police chief, is introduced on Jan. 18, 2018.
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Jorge Colina, the city of Miami's new police chief, is introduced on Jan. 18, 2018.

Jorge Colina, a 28-year veteran who has overseen every division in the more than 1,200-member Miami Police Department, will take over as the city’s chief of police at the end of the month.

Colina, 50, met and interviewed with new City Manager Emilio González Wednesday morning and after sharing his policing philosophies, González made the quick decision to promote Colina.

Colina, who has spent the past few years as assistant police chief to Rodolfo Llanes, will take control of the department on Jan. 29. Llanes had been scheduled to resign in March.

“Man, I’m tripping out,” Colina said. “I met with the manager this morning and we had a long philosophical discussion.”

Colina’s philosophy: Increase community policing. Forge better partnerships with federal agencies. Stop the gun violence on the streets that increased the last few months of the year in Miami.

“There’s no reason why we can’t be one of the safest cities in the country,” he said. “Reducing gun violence is the priority. I have no sympathy if you chose to use a firearm to commit a crime.”

González said he chose Colina because he’s “imminently qualified” and because Llanes recommended him. There was no national search for his replacement or formal internal selection process.

“I realize that this is my first appointment. I wanted to make sure that, in my eyes, we have a guy who understands the community and has vast experience,” said the city manager. “I’m expecting great things for our city.”

Colina has overseen Internal Affairs, Criminal Investigations, Field Operations and Administation, the department’s four divisions. He’s also worked in narcotics and anti-corruption and was promoted to major under former Police Chief Miguel Exposito. He commanded the city’s south district in Coconut Grove.

Francis Suarez, a two-term commissioner who was elected mayor in November, said he’s known Colina since he served in the Grove.

“He’s extremely ethical and has held very sensitive positions in the department,” said the mayor.

Colina, who has been married for 25 years and has two children and two grandchildren, will be the city’s fifth chief in the past nine years, an unusual amount of turnover for a major police department. Since John Timoney’s resignation in 2009, Miami has been overseen by a chief forced out after a series of police-involved shootings and two chiefs who delayed retirement for a few years to take over the department.

“I don’t intend to have another five chiefs in my eight years,” said Suarez. “I can tell you that.”

Miami Herald staff writer David Smiley contributed to this report.