The Miami-Dade County mayor on Friday announced a reshuffle of his administration’s law enforcement officials, demoting the head of the corrections system, Daniel Junior, while promoting the county police director to deputy. responsible for public security.
Among Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s gestures:
- Police Superintendent Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez III will be elevated to county chief of public safety, overseeing both the police and the Miami-Dade Fire Department.
- Levine Cava’s current security guard, former county police director JD Patterson, will take on a new role overseeing corrections and its new acting director, Cassandra Jones, currently assistant to the department under Junior.
- Patterson will continue to report to Levine Cava, as will Ramirez, according to Levine Cava’s office. That leaves Ramirez with a smaller portfolio than Patterson, who has overseen corrections as well as fire and police.
- Filling Ramirez’s shoes, as Acting County Police Director: George Perez, Miami-Dade Deputy Police Director.
- The personnel changes move Junior, a popular department chief with Miami-Dade commissioners, to deputy director of security at the county’s PortMiami.
Junior’s transfer follows a series of negative reports about corrections that frustrated Levine Cava and his top aides on the 29th floor of County Hall, according to people familiar with the mayor’s thinking.
This included a county inmate who committed suicide by hanging in January; a lawsuit demanding humiliating treatment in prison against transgender men and women; and news revealed by the Miami Herald earlier this month that corrections had temporarily used a closed prison known as “Stockade” for COVID-19 duty, with allegations of putrid food and cold showers.
Sally Heyman, the county commissioner who chairs the council’s Community Safety Committee, said Junior’s demotion stunned her when Levine Cava confirmed rumors of the changes in a chat Thursday night.
“I think he did a really good job, inheriting the issues he had,” Heyman said of Junior, who has led corrections since then. Mayor Carlos Gimenez named him acting director in a 2016 order requiring prison oversight after the mistreatment of inmates in need of mental health services was uncovered.
“I feel discouraged and disappointed,” by Levine Cava’s decision, Heyman said.
Heyman said Levine Cava cited concerns she heard about other people’s corrections, and the mayor’s memo alluded to complaints that prompted the action.
“I believe that a transparent government is one that listens to its constituents and takes concrete action when necessary,” she wrote.
Levine Cava, who announced Friday that he tested positive for COVID-19, was unavailable for an interview.
Fletcher Everett, a community organizer with Beyond the Bars, said his group’s hotline receives daily complaints about poor conditions in Miami-Dade prisons and inmates not receiving proper medical care. “We hope the next Director of Corrections truly cares about the humanity of the people in our prisons,” he said, “and we urge the mayor’s office to initiate a public process to ensure that we we have the best person in place for such an important position.”
Changes that take effect March 1 give Levine Cava the ability to choose new permanent heads of the county’s two law enforcement agencies before the 2024 election, when an amendment to the Florida Constitution requires voters of Miami-Dade to elect a sheriff for the first time. since the 1960s.
Levine Cava said she wants the Miami-Dade County government to retain a police force under the mayor once a sheriff takes office, and the shake-up includes the placement of senior adviser Rahel Weldeyesus from the mayor for innovation, to the police department for “helping with the sheriff’s transition.
The county’s new police director, Perez, currently oversees the police services bureau, which has more than 2,500 employees. Levine Cava is also appointing Stephanie Daniels to the renewed position of assistant director. She will become the first woman – and the first black woman – to take on this role. She is currently the deputy director of the police department.
For Ramirez, promotion to deputy Levine Cava means going from the county’s top uniformed officer to a civilian job on the 29th floor.
A veteran of the police department, he was named director in 2020 by Gimenez and helped Levine Cava gain approval for his 2021 “Peace and Prosperity” crime plan that focused on social services and a program for residents undocumented from obtaining county-sanctioned identification cards. He oversaw the department throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and during the response to the condominium collapse at Surfside.
“It’s an honor to continue working in public safety,” Ramirez said Friday. “I’m very proud of the men and women of the Miami-Dade police force and how they got through a tough time.”
This story was originally published February 18, 2022 12:56 p.m.