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Exclusive:Miami Gardens Police Harassment?

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Miami Gardens Police Harassment?
Lauren-Pastrana-600x450 Lauren Pastrana
Lauren Pastrana joined CBS Miami in April 2012 as a reporter. ...
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South Florida Crime

MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) — A current Miami Gardens police officer alleges city and police department leaders instructed officers to profile based on race, a practice he said amounts to civil rights violations.

The tenured officer, who did not wish to be identified, spoke on what is expected to be the eve of a lawsuit being filed against the City of Miami Gardens, its mayor, the police chief and dozens of other current and former city employees.

“There was a time when the major of patrol came into our roll call and specifically stated to narrow your focus to black males between the ages of 15 to 30,” the officer recalled in an exclusive interview with CBS4′s Lauren Pastrana.

The revelation comes just days after CBS4 News obtained videos from a convenience store in Miami Gardens where an employee has been stopped and questioned dozens of times by police.

Earl Sampson, 28, has been cited for trespassing more than 60 times in the city.

A majority of citations were issued at the 207 Quickstop, where Sampson works.

The officer said people are being stopped in the city for no reason other than to meet “numbers” he said puts added pressure on officers to perform.

“Because the pressure to stop black males in the city of Miami Gardens is placed on the officers, there are many Earl Sampson’s walking around,” the officer said.

Cases like Sampson’s prompted his boss, Alex Saleh, to seek out legal counsel in hopes of filing the lawsuit against the city.

CBS4 News had a chance to review the complaint which alleges the city has established policies and practices carried out by officers which expose it to potential liability.

“It appears to be outlandish behavior by the officers,” the source said.

A spokesman for the Miami Gardens police department said he won’t comment on pending litigation, but he did provide a statement from Police Chief Matthew Boyd.

Boyd’s statement said, in part, “Whenever we receive a complaint regarding one of our officers, not only do we take it seriously, but we swiftly investigate the allegations. Our goal as a department is to enforce the laws of the state of Florida in a manner that shows respect and concern for the residents and businesses that we are charged with protecting.”

The officer we spoke to said he is concerned violent crime investigations are being ignored in favor of enforcing the practices that unfairly target certain sections of the community.

However, just last week, the police department announced the arrest of one man in connection to two murder cases.

The officer said he loves working for the Miami Gardens Police Department, but that the job is made more difficult without the community’s support.

“How can the community trust the officers when the officers feel compelled to stop them at any given chance for the sake of numbers,” he asked.

Mayor Oliver Gilbert said he can’t comment on the case at this time.

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