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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Juan Perez was named the next director of the Miami-Dade Police Department at a graduation ceremony for 95 police recruits Thursday.

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Mayor Carlos Gimenez made the announcement.

“Juan is a 25-year veteran of the force and I have confidence he will lead the Miami-Dade Police Department in a manner that will make our world-class community proud,” Gimenez said.

Perez teared up when thanking his family.

“Let me change subjects,” he said as he tried to suppress his emotions. “Anybody know any good jokes?”

Perez went on to say the ceremony held at Florida International University’s Wertheim Performing Arts Center was not about him.

“This is a great department with great men and women he said,” as addressed the new officers.

“You, the new graduates, are the most important investment of all,” Gimenez said.

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Gimenez stressed the motto of “service above self” to the recruits, a group he touted as one of the largest graduating classes in Miami-Dade history.

But the president of the Police Benevolent Association says that’s not correct.

“There’s three classes that have been combined so that this becomes a big political media event,” John Rivera said.

Rivera hopes the new director has the power to make a difference.

“If somehow or another the mayor allows him to be the director, certainly let’s move forward,” Rivera said, claiming the role has been more of a figurehead position for previous leaders.

Perez is taking over for outgoing director J.D. Patterson, who announced his retirement last year.

“We are all in it for one reason, to keep this community safe,” Perez said.

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Perez’s role as director becomes effective Monday, February 1st.

Lauren Pastrana