HALLANDALE BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Members of Hallandale Beach’s SWAT team have officially resigned after the city’s Chief of Police was seen kneeling at a protest held outside City Hall, but the officers are not leaving the force.
The team met with Hallandale Beach Chief of Police Sonia Quiñones on Monday after she was seen on video kneeling with protesters in support of George Floyd.
Ten members of the police department’s SWAT team took offense to this action and sent a letter announcing their retirement from the team.
The officers met with the Chief of Police Monday afternoon, where she accepted their resignation and thanked them for their service.
Quiñones said, “What I was faced with I was highly disappointed … It didn’t end well unfortunately. The officers were told to only tell me that what they wrote in that letter is all they had to say and were not willing to talk to me any further.”
In the letter sent by the resigning officers, they said the risk of officers carrying out their duties is no longer acceptable to themselves and their families.
The letter also said, “The lack of support by members of the command staff is crippling to the agency and its rank and file.”
Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper said the police chief’s gesture was not disrespectful.
“During the last protest, that actually the protesters themselves were supporting our police department, we took a knee for George Floyd,” she said. “We did not take a knee for one person on the commission, nor did we take it against our police department.”
The letter also mentioned the death of Howard Bowe, an unarmed black man killed by Hallandale Beach SWAT police in 2014.
Vice Mayor of Hallandale Beach Sabrina Javellana said, “The fact that they’re singling out our police chief who has been very reform-minded, very community police-minded and truthfully not telling the truth when saying that she was standing in solidarity with me, that was not true.”
Quiñones said at a press conference, “These were our community members. I stand in solidarity with our community.”
Quiñones appeared on CNN Monday night and said, “I knelt with our community in memory of George Floyd. Not against police, not against our officers, not to reopen a case. I support our officers.”
She praised the protesters at the press conference, saying, “It was really in memory of George Floyd, and it was uniting with the community to say it wasn’t representative of our community.”
The officers said they were “minimally equipped, under trained and often times restrained by the politicization of our tactics to the extent of placing the safety of dogs over the safety of the team members.”
Officers also claimed they have had a lack of support from the city’s administration, commission and command staff. The officers said they were displeased with the command staff, who took a knee with protesters during the demonstration.
“We understand that public safety is a priority, I, along with majority of our commission,” said Cooper. “That is our mission statement.”
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