FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione is no longer head of the department as the agency has come under criticism for tactics during racial injustice protests.
Maglione, who has been police chief since 2016, first as interim chief, was reassigned Thursday and will stay on with the department in an unspecified role.
The decision to remove Rick Maglione was made by City Manager Chris Lagerbloom who said he wanted to bring “fresh eyes” to the police department but added it was not just recent confrontations between officers and racial justice demonstrators that led to the decision.
“There’s not one pivotal moment. I believe it’s for the betterment of our city,” Lagerbloom said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.
Mayor Dean Trantalis said “the issue of race and law enforcement” was a factor in the move.
“We must undertake a thorough review of the operations of law enforcement,” Trantalis said.
The department was recently criticized for officers’ tactics during protests, including a video showing officers laughing while firing rubber bullets into a crowd.
One woman in the crowd, LaToya Ratlieff, suffered severe injuries that required 20 stitches and damaged one of her eyes. Another officer, who is white, was charged with misdemeanor battery for shoving a kneeling Black protester to the ground.
Maglione had defended the officers in some recent comments.
Assistant Chief Karen Dietrich was appointed interim chief.
“In the coming days we have a lot of work to do,” Dietrich said at the news conference. “We’re going to make some changes.”
A search for a permanent chief will begin shortly.
“She is a 30 year veteran of law enforcement and has already shared with me new ideas and a fresh perspective,” said Lagerbloom in a video statement. “I am moving the organization forward. As Chief Dietrich assumes command we would like to thank outgoing Chief Maglione. His experience and knowledge of 28 years on the force are valuable to the city. He will be staying on in a new role that is still to be determined.”
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Lagerbloom added that he wanted the men and women of the police department to know that the city stands with them and that they are committed to due process and the officer’s bill of rights.