Civil Rights Groups Unveil Proposal for Civilian Oversight of Scandal-Plagued Miami Police Department

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
June 28, 2001 12:00 am

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MIAMI — The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida in coalition with the Community Organizations Committee today unveiled a proposal for a Civilian Investigative Panel that will conduct independent investigations of police brutality allegations, and review standards for the use of force by police officers.

“We have witnessed an increasing number of very questionable police shootings since 1999, and the officers responsible are not being punished,” said Bess McElroy, Chairperson of the Community Organizations Committee. “There is a huge public outcry to put in place a process that makes these officers accountable for their actions. Now is the time for the city to get serious about this problem.”

The proposed Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP) will have the power to:
· investigate police misconduct;
· subpoena witnesses;
· sanction police officers;
· hold public hearings;
· prepare interim and final reports;
· forward complaints alleging serious criminal activities to relevant prosecuting agencies;
· and retain the services of an independent legal counsel.

Today’s proposal was released in part as a response to a police proposal that fails to provide adequate independent oversight of officers. The model submitted by the city’s Blue Ribbon Committee, which is comprised mainly of law enforcement officials, only allows the review panel to begin its investigations after the city’s Internal Affairs office completes its own review. The Community Organizations Committee proposes that CIP conduct its investigation simultaneously.

“It is incomprehensible that the very police department that hired and trained these officers, and adopted these policies, could conduct the type of objective investigation essential to safeguard our community from police abuse,” said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, President of the Greater Miami Chapter of the ACLU of Florida.

The Community Organizations Committee includes representatives from People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality (PULSE), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the ACLU of Florida. The coalition was created following the April 30 shooting of Nick Singleton by a still-unidentified Miami Police Officer.

Both the CIP and the Blue Ribbon Committee proposals are expected to be presented to the Miami City Commission at its next meeting on July 10. The CIP proposal can be viewed online at

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