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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMIAMI) — Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Bruce Roberts, who is the city’s former police chief, is calling for an outside agency to review the department’s policies and procedures.
Roberts said the racist video demeaning President Obama and depicting hateful images of violence against blacks set back years of effort by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. Roberts said he was appalled when he learned that officer Alex Alvarez made the video and shared it with three other officers with whom he exchanged racist and hurtful text messages about the community they served.
“A couple of knuckleheads who do that type of thing, destroy that trust that takes so long to build up, it’s really disconcerting,” Roberts told CBS4’s Carey Codd.
That’s why Roberts wants an outside law enforcement agency — possibly the U.S. Department of Justice — to do an independent review of the police department’s policies and procedures.
“The whole goal of this is to restore the faith that the public would have in the city and in the police department in that we have been objective about it,” Roberts said. “We are not as those other officers are. We are a real good agency doing the right thing on this street for the community.”
Roberts made the proposal at a city meeting Tuesday. He hopes an outside review would also bring relief to the Fort Lauderdale police officers who are working in the wake of this racist nightmare.
“It’s not fair to the men and who go to work every single day and do their jobs and do it the right way and have a cloud hanging over them,” Roberts said.
Members of the group Dream Defenders, which works to hold police accountable for their treatment of the poor and minority communities, believe an outside review is a good first step towards answering questions but that the police department has a long way to go to repair the damage done by the video.
“An external review, an external investigation will put us on that path to clarity and transparency,” said member Arely Lozano-Baugh.
“It’d be great to have an objective investigation into the way that this police department conducts their business,” said member Nucleus Shelton. “But it’s not an overnight fix, it’s gonna take a long transitional process.”
The next step in the process is for Roberts to meet with the city manager and the police chief to discuss which agency to ask to conduct the review. Roberts said he will then send a letter will be sent to that agency and the review process could take months.