Union representing black officers calls for Miami Police chief’s resignation due to past comment

MIAMI (WSVN) - A union representing black police officers has called for the City of Miami Police Chief’s resignation for a past comment he allegedly made regarding the city’s Overtown neighborhood.

The Miami Community Police Benevolent Association has asked Chief Jorge Colina to resign over what he allegedly said to fellow officers during a training session in 1997.

“He was basically describing Overtown as [expletive] town,” union president Stanley Jean-Poix said. “I’m disgusted. I feel that he’s deceiving people when he goes on TV, and he’s acting like he really cares about racial issues. I believe he should be fired.”

Jean-Poix, a former Miami Police sergeant, said Colina used the n-word when addressing officers during the training session 23 years ago.

There is no known recording of the session, which focused on policing narcotics and included officers from various South Florida departments.

Racial issues were the focus in November 2019 when the union announced a no-confidence vote in Colina as they then alleged racism, discrimination, unfair treatment of black officers and a lack of black officers in leadership positions at the department.

The department denied the claims and asserted that more than one-fourth of its command staff are black, and the union’s claims were police politics.

“You do have a small segment of individuals that have a personal agenda,” an officer said.

Jean-Poix pulled a document from May 1997, which was filed under the Miami Police Disciplinary Review Board.

The document states, “As a teaching technique, Officer Jorge Colina related an experience into his street narcotics presentation that was offensive to some members of the class. Although Officer Colina apologized to the class, the utterance of the scenario was inappropriate.”

Although the document does not go into specifics of what Colina said, it concluded with, “I recommend that this reprimand become a permanent part of Officer Jorge Colina’s file.”

Colina addressed the allegations in a video message that was sent to the entire Miami-Dade Police Department.

“In 1997, I was an undercover police officer, as shocking as that may sound,” said Colina, “and I was teaching a class. I started the class by saying that I was going to be using language that could be very offensive, and that was the point. When you’re working undercover, you may have to act and say things that you wouldn’t normally say otherwise, whether they make you uncomfortable or not, and then I gave many examples of what that could be.”

He said further, “and a lot of that language was, in fact, offensive, but, again, that was the point of the class. I was called by the Chief of Police, who was concerned with some of the language that I used, and although the chief recognized that this was making a teaching point, and not me speaking at a party or at a water cooler or at the dinner table, [he] was uncomfortable with some of the language I used, and so I was given a reprimand for tact inconsideration. Not because I’m a bigot or a racist, but because they weren’t happy with some of the language that I used, period. That is what happened.”

Jean-Poix wants City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez to investigate the chief for the remark, he said, Colina made 23 years ago.

The MCPBA has scheduled a news conference on the matter at 4 p.m. on Friday.

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