Commissioner Barbara Jordan

Commissioner Barbara Jordan

The restoration of civilian oversight of county government — seriously wounded after a veto by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez — was resurrected by Commissioner Barbara Jordan.

At the Feb. 21 meeting, commissioners were set to vote on an override of Gimenez’s veto of the resolution that would have created the Independent Community Panel, an agency that previously operated as the Independent Review Panel. 

The IRP, created in the aftermath of the 1980 McDuffie uprising, was popular in the Black community, as well as with civil rights and civil liberties organizations.

But Jordan was short of the two-thirds majority of commissioners necessary for an override. With 13 members present she needed nine votes. At best, she may have received eight votes — one short of what was needed.

The back and forth started after the Feb. 6 commission meeting, when commissioners voted 7-5 to restore funding to its oversight agency — and to authorize a new name. Under the ordinance, $170,000 to fund the agency would be taken from the Miami-Dade Police Department budget. Those voting no were Commission Chairman Esteban Bovo, Joe Martinez, Rebeca Sosa, Javier Souto and Jose “Pepe” Diaz.

Instead, Jordan made a motion to reconsider her proposal, which pulled the item off the table from discussion. That motion is rarely used in such a manner. But, Jordan said later, it kept the ICP alive.

“It was a strategic move to avoid having to start all over again with the process,” Jordan said, adding she would bring the item back to the full commission on April 10.

In the interim, she will consider suggestions for the

ICP structure that Gimenez said he could support. Those include 13 members, one appointed by each county commissioners. He said nothing precluded commissioners from seeing recommendations from community groups or organizations. 

Jordan said that suggestion could help her craft an amended proposal  “that would make the item more palatable after the mayor gave suggestions on what panel could be.”

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, Jordan planned to meet with the presidents of the Miami-Dade NAACP and the ACLU of Greater Miami — the two leading organizations whose members were part of a workgroup that built the structure for the ICP. That group met for eight months and created the report that was the basis for the District 1 commissioner’s resolution.

Gimenez’s veto on Feb. 17 was a blow to activists and the Black community. 

In a statement, Gimenez said he didn’t think the ICP does a good enough job of policing its officers.

“I am vetoing this legislation because I am not entirely convinced that there is a need for an Independent Community Panel. The county already has numerous internal mechanism and external entities that oversee and investigated complaints against any county employee or agency,” Gimenez wrote. 

The mayor wrote that the Miami-Dade Police Department holds itself accountable through its Professional Compliance Bureau, an investigative unit that reports solely to Police Director Juan Perez. Gimenez also said the county has invested $3 million for body-worn cameras, which he called one of the largest in the United States.

Jordan said much of the discussion in the local media and the chamber debate focused on civilian oversight of police. That is not the primary function of the ICP, which she said would provide oversight for all county departments.  That does not exist, she said.

“It’s about county government and services. There’s no place for the public to go,” Jordan said. “When citizens have a complaint, they need a vehicle to register that complaint.”  

Ruban Roberts, president of the Miami-Dade NAACP, said Jordan’s deft procedural move gives he and other advocates some breathing room. 

“The item lives for another couple of weeks or so. Now we just have to see what the end result will be on April 10,” he said. 

Meanwhile, he plans to rally community members to call their commissioners to drum up support.

“We’d love for the community to come out. This is about the community having a voice,” Roberts said. “It’s not just the police, but with any county entity, [residents need to] have a voice.”

The restoration of civilian oversight of county government — seriously wounded after a veto by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez — was resurrected by Commissioner Barbara Jordan.

At the Feb. 21 meeting, commissioners were set to vote on an override of Gimenez’s veto of the resolution that would have created the Independent Community Panel, an agency that previously operated as the Independent Review Panel.

The IRP, created in the aftermath of the 1980 McDuffie uprising, was popular in the Black community, as well as with civil rights and civil liberties organizations.

But Jordan was short of the two-thirds majority of commissioners necessary for an override. With 13 members present she needed nine votes. At best, she may have received eight votes — one short of what was needed.

The back and forth started after the Feb. 6 commission meeting, when commissioners voted 7-5 to restore funding to its oversight agency — and to authorize a new name. Under the ordinance, $170,000 to fund the agency would be taken from the Miami-Dade Police Department budget. Those voting no were Commission Chairman Esteban Bovo, Joe Martinez, Rebeca Sosa, Javier Souto and Jose “Pepe” Diaz.

Instead, Jordan made a motion to reconsider her proposal, which pulled the item off the table from discussion. That motion is rarely used in such a manner. But, Jordan said later, it kept the ICP alive.

“It was a strategic move to avoid having to start all over again with the process,” Jordan said, adding she would bring the item back to the full commission on April 10.

In the interim, she will consider suggestions for the

ICP structure that Gimenez said he could support. Those include 13 members, one appointed by each county commissioners. He said nothing precluded commissioners from seeing recommendations from community groups or organizations.

Jordan said that suggestion could help her craft an amended proposal “that would make the item more palatable after the mayor gave suggestions on what panel could be.”

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, Jordan planned to meet with the presidents of the Miami-Dade NAACP and the ACLU of Greater Miami — the two leading organizations whose members were part of a workgroup that built the structure for the ICP. That group met for eight months and created the report that was the basis for the District 1 commissioner’s resolution.

Gimenez’s veto on Feb. 17 was a blow to activists and the Black community.

In a statement, Gimenez said he didn’t think the ICP does a good enough job of policing its officers.

“I am vetoing this legislation because I am not entirely convinced that there is a need for an Independent Community Panel. The county already has numerous internal mechanism and external entities that oversee and investigated complaints against any county employee or agency,” Gimenez wrote.

The mayor wrote that the Miami-Dade Police Department holds itself accountable through its Professional Compliance Bureau, an investigative unit that reports solely to Police Director Juan Perez. Gimenez also said the county has invested $3 million for body-worn cameras, which he called one of the largest in the United States.

Jordan said much of the discussion in the local media and the chamber debate focused on civilian oversight of police. That is not the primary function of the ICP, which she said would provide oversight for all county departments. That does not exist, she said.

“It’s about county government and services. There’s no place for the public to go,” Jordan said. “When citizens have a complaint, they need a vehicle to register that complaint.”

Ruban Roberts, president of the Miami-Dade NAACP, said Jordan’s deft procedural move gives he and other advocates some breathing room.

“The item lives for another couple of weeks or so. Now we just have to see what the end result will be on April 10,” he said.

Meanwhile, he plans to rally community members to call their commissioners to drum up support.

“We’d love for the community to come out. This is about the community having a voice,” Roberts said. “It’s not just the police, but with any county entity, [residents need to] have a voice.”