Almost a dozen members of a police SWAT team in a South Florida city left the unit this week, frustrated over “today’s political climate” and its impact on their jobs. In a letter dated earlier this week, the officers in Hallandale Beach, Broward County, complained of being “minimally equipped, under trained and often times restrained” in performing their mission.
In these days of increasing pressure on police departments in the wake of the shootings of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks, rioters and Democrat politicians are casting a wide net of criticism over all police departments. These officers feel that the political pressure hampers their ability to protect the public.
The officers, who are quitting the SWAT unit but not resigning from the police force, wrote that they were concerned that city officials were “placing the safety of dogs over the safety of team members.”
10 members of Hallandale Beach Police’s SWAT team resign in letter to police chiefhttps://t.co/4OCgiLhhwS
— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) June 13, 2020
The officers signing the letter to police Chief Sonia Quinones write that they feel unsupported by the city’s leadership, as well as the leadership of the city’s police department, “Until these conditions and sentiments are rectified and addressed we cannot safely, effectively and in good faith carry out duties in this capacity without putting ourselves and our families at this needless increased level of risk.” The newly elected president of the IUPA Police Union was also one of the officers who quit the unit.
Hallandale City Manager Greg Chavarria said of the development, “They specifically mention their displeasure with the Chief joining members of our community in taking a knee against racism, hatred, and intolerance earlier this week. They have incorrectly stated the gesture was in support of an elected official. This is simply not true.” The gesture was likely in solidarity with activists nationwide, including former NFL player Colin Kaepernick and many other athletes across a range of sports who feel the heel of police brutality from their multimillion dollar condos and their beach houses in the Bahamas.
In a similar show of kinship among police officers, about 60 members of an emergency response team in Buffalo, N.Y., quit the unit June 5, although they too remained with the police department. City governments across the country will have to balance the forces of anti-police activism, sometimes taking violent form, with their civic duties to uphold law and order in their communities.
Hallandale Beach is a community not far from Miami on the primary beach road leading to Dade County and Miami. Its place in Broward County sets it apart from the hustle and bustle of Dade, while it still retains the tourist and waterfront lifestyle that have drawn millions to its vacation locale, and to settle there, for several decades. As tourists and residents both require safety on the streets, this may be an issue that this particular city and county government may not find easy to solve.