MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Hallandale Beach Police Department no longer has a SWAT team after all the members resigned.
“What I was faced with I was highly disappointed,” said Hallandale Beach Police Chief Sonia Quinones.
Quinones is not happy after a meeting with her former SWAT team.
The 10 officers, who resigned from the team Friday, were set to discuss their mass resignation at a 3 p.m. meeting.
“We had a labor attorney show up. He was here unannounced. So we didn’t have our attorney here. Either way, this was not meant to be discipline, this was meant for us to talk with them, find out what was the basis,” the chief said.
Hallandale Beach’s city manager echoed the chief’s message of communication.
“We would have liked for them to come to talk to us. Instead they have created a media frenzy,” said Greg Chavarria. “And still their decision has now placed the city in position of reevaluating if we need a SWAT team.”
The SWAT team resigned after the police chief and Mayor Joy Cooper took a knee with protesters last week. The chief said she was standing against racism.
“Against hatred, against intolerance, against biases. All the biases, all the hatred we have in the world. These are our community members. I stand in solidarity with our community,” she said.
Cooper said during the rally a small group of protesters changed the focus.
“What it morphed into was the discussion of a previous case that was adjudicated by the grand jury six years ago with Howard Bowe,” she said.
The union saw it differently. In a memo, the union said the city administration has a clear disdain for the team and has “openly disrespected officers.”
They also allege that by taking a knee, the command staff is in solidarity with the vice mayor, who they said has “openly made ignorant and inaccurate statements attacking the lawful actions of the city’s officers and SWAT team.”
“I think our community can be safer by reallocating the funding for the SWAT department,” said Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana.
The team also said they are minimally equipped and under trained.
The chief said many of the allegations are not true.
“We know that some of that information was not factual in that letter, such as the training. We provide up to 20 hours a month,” she said. “In the last two years we invested more than $100,000 in SWAT specific equipment.”
Sources at city hall believe this is all a stunt. That it has nothing to do with taking a knee and everything to do with Hallandale police working without a contract now for two years.
Stunt or not, a showdown is expected over whether the city should have a SWAT team ever again. The city seems split on it.
“I am here to stand firm that not on my watch. I am not removing that layer of protection for our kids, for our schools, and for our community,” said Mayor Cooper.
“We are a small city, 4-square miles, 38,000 [residents] in a big county with nearly 2 million residents,” said Vice Mayor Javellana. “I don’t think local police departments should have police militarized.”
CBS4 reached out to the police union’s lawyer and they did not get back to us.
Hallandale’s city commission meets Wednesday where they plan to discuss this very issue.