Crime

Deputy chief once injured in shootout in line to be Miami Beach’s new chief of police

Richard Clements, the deputy police chief in Miami Beach, is expected to be named the city’s new police chief next week after the city manager recommended the promotion. Clements has been with Miami Beach for 28 years.
Richard Clements, the deputy police chief in Miami Beach, is expected to be named the city’s new police chief next week after the city manager recommended the promotion. Clements has been with Miami Beach for 28 years.

A longtime Miami Beach cop who worked his way up to second in command — after surviving a shootout more than 20 years ago — is in line to take over the department’s top post next week.

Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales informed commissioners in a memo this week that he is recommending that Richard “Rick” Clements, 56, currently the city’s deputy chief, take over the spot being vacated by Dan Oates.

Oates announced his retirement in April after a five-year stint and has accepted a public safety consulting job with the U.S. Department of Justice that begins in Baltimore.

“No candidate certainly has the depth of knowledge about the city and the police department that Chief Clements possesses. Within the department he is a respected leader who has practically worked in every division and unit,” Morales wrote to the city’s seven commissioners.

The commission, which must approve the manager’s recommendation, is expected to vote on June 26. If a majority of commissioners approve of Clements, he is expected to be sworn in at City Hall on July 1.

In 2016, Oates tapped Clements as his top deputy, the first time someone inside the department had been promoted to that position in over a decade. The expected soon-to-be chief rose through the department during his 28-year tenure, having served as commanding officer of the investigations and support division, where among other things he oversaw training, recruitment and hiring and narcotics and vice operations.

Clements, who holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Utah, also served on the Beach’s SWAT team for 16 years. He was chosen from more than two dozen candidates who applied for the post.

His most high-profile incident happened more than two decades ago. While patrolling South Beach, a call came over the radio warning of a man with a gun on Washington Avenue and 16th Street. Clements and his partner spotted Marvin Douglas Martin on Fifth Street and Washington and ordered him to approach. Instead, Martin fired at Clements, a bullet piercing the officer’s thigh. Clements, injured, returned fire and struck Martin in the back. Martin eventually received a 30-year sentence.

Oates, who came to Miami Beach from Aurora, Colorado after a series of embarrassing high-profile incidents involving officers in Miami Beach, is leaving after five years on the force and a 38-year career in law enforcement. Oates was praised for cleaning up the department by city leaders when he announced his retirement. Still, his retirement came shortly after Miami Beach once again made international headlines after a series of brawls over spring break were captured on cellphone footage and blasted through social media.

Oates said he will stick around to help Clements through the transition.

Miami Herald Staff Writer Joey Flechas contributed to this report.

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