In the summer of 2013, following a lengthy review of 33 police-involved shootings during a three-year span, the U.S. Department of Justice found that when it came to pulling the trigger, Miami police had engaged in a pattern of “excessive force.”
Justice — which began its review following the deadly shooting of seven black men in the inner city, some unarmed — said the department’s practices violated the Fourth Amendment and recommended new training policies and more timely and thorough investigations when officers fire their guns. The federal agency also reminded the city that the last time it found troubling trends, in the early 2000s, changes left up to the department didn’t take hold and so a monitor was necessary to oversee a formal settlement.
But as 2015 begins, Justice and the city are still negotiating. The delay is not unusual, as such settlements or consent decrees can sometimes take years to negotiate, but civic groups are anxious for resolution at a time when the nation’s focus is on deadly incidents involving police.
“There’s a lot of unfinished business in this city with respect to police practices,” said Jeanne Baker, co-chair of the police practices committee of the American Civil Liberties Union Miami chapter. “It’s urgent the police department work with city leaders to get, as quickly as possible, implementation of the reform recommendations DOJ made in its findings letter. There are important reforms that need to be implemented.”