Miami Gardens hires new police chief

4/10/2014, 9 a.m.

North Miami’s City Manager Stephen Johnson has been hired to lead the police force in Miami Gardens as residents pressure city leaders to address recent incidents of gun violence that have claimed innocent lives.

Johnson has served for 30 years in North Miami, a city also beset with crime, but dramatically less than Miami Gardens, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Miami Gardens had a total of 2,735 crimes last year compared to North Miami which had 1,645, statistics show. The total number of violent crimes were also higher in Miami Gardens , according to reports on the department’s website.Johnson comes to Miami Gardens as violent crimes continue to rock the city.

The latest involved Qualecia Jones, a 21-year old pregnant woman who was killed March 30 after being shot in a car as it headed north on NW 32nd Avenue. So far, no arrests have been made.

Johnson’s appointment comes nearly four months after former police chief Matthew Boyd retired from the post amid widespread criticism over the city’s controversial zero tolerance policy that involved police arresting and allegedly harassing residents for no reason at the Quick Stop convenience store. The incidents were captured on video tape, where police can be seen pushing and shoving customers up against a wall like hardened criminals.

Deputy chief Paul Miller, who served as interim chief, resigned in February.

The department has been without a top chief since then.