Is the City of Miami ready for a Black police chief?

caines | 11/30/2011, 7 a.m.

McQueen and Boyd both feel they have what it takes

City of Miami residents are still reeling from the epic squabble between City Hall and the Miami Police Department that led to the firing of former Police Chief Miguel Exposito. And while Manuel Orosa has since been assigned to serve as the acting chief of police, a nationwide search is currently underway. Miami has had one Black chief in the past Clarence Dickson, who took over in 1985 when Miami was in the throes of racial upheaval. To say he faced an uphill battle would be an understatement. When he was promoted, he became Miami's third chief in one year. Fast forward to 2011 and there are now two highly-decorated Black police officers and veterans who have indicated their interest in the job. To add complexity to the situation, Miami police face an investigation from the U.S. Department of Justice for potential excessive use of force and is understandably at a critical junction morale is at one of its reported lowest levels in recent years. Major Craig McQueen, a 30-year veteran of the Miami Police Department, says he is ready to lead the beleaguered department. He has bachelor degree from Florida International University and has risen steadily through the ranks including: sergeant, lieutenant, captain and commander. He believes there is no reason to waste time or money on a national search for a new chief and says that qualified leadership is already in the department. "I believe the time is right for an upfront, brutally honest, but compassionate police chief, he said McQueen. "Thirty years of experience have prepared me for this opportunity and the City of Miami and its communities are ready to accept my style of leadership." Boyd has seen action in Panhandle, Jacksonville and more As a little girl growing up in the small town of Sneads in the Florida Panhandle, Gwen Boyd never thought that police work would be her "dream job," especially after seeing attitudes between her community and police officers in Jacksonville, Florida, where she later went to live after the deaths of her parents. However, after completing a Miami-based program designed to attract minorities and females into law enforcement, Boyd says she saw a different side. She adds that hearing the calls from citizens seeking the help of police officers led her to sign up for the police academy. Boyd has served almost 25 years at the Miami Police Department and has risen to become the first Black female sergeant, then lieutenant, captain and major. She was then pegged to take over as police chief for the City of Prichard, Alabama. Boyd believes she has the skills, training and education to lead multicultural police force. "My vision is to restore the department's image, morale and community trust and confidence," she said. As a [former] member of the [Miami Police] Department, it still hurts when I read negative incidents about them. I understand more than those who have never worked in a police environment. By Gregory W. Wright Miami Times writer g.w.wright@hotmail.com