MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Community members and Miami City Commission leaders are calling for changes to the city’s Civilian Investigative Panel.
The CIP was created in 2002 to look into complaints involving the police department after a string of police-involved shootings, but after reported infighting and issues, the investigative panel is under investigation.
“It’s dysfunctional the CIP right now is dysfunctional,” said Commissioner Francis Suarez. “I think you’ve heard this from all the commissioners. They’re not satisfied with all the infighting the timeliness or lack thereof of the investigations, so it’s certainly not functioning in a way we envision it to be functioning,” he added.
Thursday, commissioners voiced the desire to fire the CIP’s executive director, Cristina Beamud, and independent counsel, Charles Mays according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
The CIP has a history of controversy including years-old cases that are still open and board members with expired terms that have not been replaced.
Sheila McNeil, whose son Travis was shot and killed by police in 2011, voiced her concerns during Thursday’s commission meeting.
“It’s very stressful. I have so many questions and still I have gotten no answers to why my son is dead and was hoping that through this committee, some kind of conclusion would… they could come to some kind of conclusion,” she said.
During the discussion about the CIP and people who were shot by police, Miami Fraternal Order of Police President Javier Ortiz made this comment. “If they would have followed lawful commands or they would have not been committing a crime, we would not be here today.”
Commissioner Keon Hardemon quickly responded, saying, “I apologize to anybody if you were offended by the comments that put the position out there, that if you killed by a police officer in this city, that you are a criminal or that you were committing a crime or that you were doing something wrong. That is emphatically an incorrect statement.”
Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa also said he did not agree with that statement and it does not represent the view of the Miami Police Department as a whole.
Commissioners voted to launch an independent investigation into the issues with the CIP.
“When something is broken, you have an opportunity to fix it instead of throwing it away and that’s what we have an opportunity to get it on the right track,” said Hardemon.
Chief Orosa added, “All I would like is to see them put whatever squabbles they have internally behind them and move forward to help the community.”
A five-member panel will be appointed to examine the CIP and present the findings in late July.
The commission also passed a resolution asking the CIP to make nominations for vacant and expired terms on the 13-member panel.
If the CIP is unable to fill the open slots, the commission may consider appointing board members.
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