MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade has a new top cop.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Wednesday at a news conference that Deputy Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez is the county’s new police director.
Ramirez is the successor to outgoing Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez. He announced his retirement last month, saying he was ready for the next chapter of his life.
“We all knew that this day was coming since JP has signed up a while ago for the state’s DROP retirement program but now that the time has arrived, and it’s time to say goodbye, it’s somewhat bittersweet,” said Gimenez.
Perez said this day was also a little bittersweet for him as well.
“You know obviously it’s been a long career. It’s been an incredible career, it’s an incredible profession, and it’s been an honor for the last four years to serve this community,” said Perez.
Perez spent the last four years leading the largest law enforcement agency in the Southeastern United States. He has been with the department for nearly 30 years and was appointed to lead the agency in February 2016.
“I will miss you can do attitude, JP, and thank you for service to our county,” said Gimenez.
WATCH: FREDDY RAMIREZ NAMED MIAMI-DADE POLICE DIRECTOR
The mayor said Perez has led many initiatives, and he’s sad to see him go. Some of these initiatives include:
-Successful implementation of body-worn cameras for police and continual training to ensure transparency and protect everyone involved in situations leading to arrests.
-Placing officers at more than 100 public primary schools so that all schools in unincorporated areas of the County have police protection following the Parkland school shootings in Broward County.
-An increase in community policing and in training so that police know how to detect and deal with people in crisis situations who may suffer from mental or emotional problems or have medical conditions such as autism.
-New neighborhood-focused programs that have reduced youth violence, committing MDPD officers, civic leaders, and community groups to take a holistic approach to work together with families and high-risk youth.
-The use of new technology, such as Shot-Spotter, license-plate readers and enhanced video at MDPD’s Real-Time Center so that officers can respond quickly when shots are fired on our streets.
-A community-wide focus to end the synthetic opioid and heroin crisis that began a few years ago.
-Creation of the Police Priority Response Team, a specially trained unit that was formed after the Parkland shootings to respond quickly to incidents that can result in mass casualties.
Gimenez said one of his fondest memories of Perez goes back a while.
“We were looking at budget scenarios and one included laying off about 80 officers. I’ll never forget that JP took off his badge and made an impassioned case for his department. He challenged me and frankly, I really respected that. Being a director you have to fight for your department. I also told him never to do that again,” Gimenez said as the crowd laughed.
The mayor said he knew four years ago when Perez was named director that Ramirez would be next in line.
“I’m inspired by his energy, his passion, his intelligence, and his humility. There’s something special about him too, maybe it’s the fact that he’s a rocker,” said Gimenez. “Yeah, he loves to jam with a guitar to Def Leppard. Freddy, you’re the man, man.”
“I am extremely humbled to lead this agency and continue the legacy of my predecessors. My top priority is to keep my officers and the community safe. And I look forward to continue working with all of you to achieve our goals,” said Ramirez.
He stood with his wife and two of his four children by his side. Two of his top priorities going forward, he says, are ensuring officer wellness and reducing gun violence in the community.
“I love my department,” said Ramirez. “I love my officers. I love my civilian staff, just like I love my family. Those are the only two things that keep me going.”
Ramirez credited Perez and his leadership and says he was able to learn from him over the years.
“I thank you for your friendship your mentorship your leadership. I stood behind you and next to you as you made some of the toughest decisions a police chief has had to make.”
As for the next steps, Director Perez did not get too specific but said he wants to stay involved in his community.
“There are many things to take into consideration. One of them is opportunities that may be coming up,” he explains. “I haven’t made up my mind in the direction I’m going to go.”
Perez’s official last day is Sunday.