Hallandale Beach, FL – The entire Hallandale Beach Police Department SWAT team resigned from their positions on the team Friday after their police chief and mayor took a knee with anti-police protesters.
The SWAT team submitted their resignations as a group on June 12 after Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana compared Hallandale police officers involved in the death of Howard Bowe in 2014 to the former Minneapolis police officers charged with the death of George Floyd, the Daily Mail reported.
Bowe, 34, and his dog, Tank, were killed when Hallandale Beach SWAT officers conducted a narcotics raid on their home, the Daily Mail reported.
Investigators never found any misconduct on the part of the officers and a grand jury cleared everyone involved, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
Afterwards, the city settled a wrongful death suit with Bowe’s family for $425,000 and implemented a number of reforms within the department, including the addition of bodycams and the implementation of de-escalation and diversity training.
Chief Quinones initially greeted the resignations with pushback, claiming the kneeling incident hadn’t gone as planned, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
The chief said she was taking a knee with the Floyd protesters against police brutality when protesters brought up the Bowe shooting.
Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper defended her top cop and said Chief Quinones was in an impossible situation when the protesters focused on Bowe, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
Cooper said that if the chief had gotten up at that point, it would have knocked down a bridge police had built with the protesters and replaced it with a wall.
“It was an awkward moment for all of us,” the mayor said. “The chief, especially, was in a no-win situation.”
So the police chief continued to kneel for eight minutes as the Floyd protest turned into chanting about her own police department, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
To add insult to injury, the vice mayor joined the clamor with the protesters to call for re-opening the long-settled case.
“Grand juries clear officers all the time,” Javellana said. “It doesn’t settle the issue for the community.”
The vice mayor chanted “Howard Bowe, re-open the case, State Attorney, re-open the case” alongside anti-police activists, according to the resignation letter submitted to the police chief on Friday morning, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
The letter cited numerous problems in the Hallandale Beach Police Department, including “having members of the Command Staff taking a knee in solidarity with Vice-Mayor Sabrina Javellana (who stated she wants the officers ‘fired and charged’),” WPLG reported.
The former SWAT team called the lack of support from their chief “crippling.”
“The Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana has made openly ignorant and inaccurate statements attacking the lawful actions of the city’s officers and SWAT team both from the dais and form her social media accounts,” the letter read.
“She has actively protested against us,” the resignation letter continued. “She has shown that she takes pleasure in besmirching the hard work and dedication of the members of this professional agency, having the gall to compare us to the Minneapolis Police Department.”
Chief Quinones scheduled a meeting with the angry former SWAT team members for Monday in the hope of working things out but that was not to be, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
First, Javellana made more critical comments about the police department over the weekend in defense of her actions.
“I have been vocal about the wrongful death of Howard Bowe since even before I was in elected office,” the vice mayor said Friday night. “We have our own George Floyds and Breonna Taylors in our own city that we must address before we can heal and reform.”
Then the recently-former SWAT team showed up to the meeting with the police chief with their union attorney in tow, Chief Quinones told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
The chief said she had hoped to discuss why she had taken a knee but the officers weren’t willing to say anything they hadn’t already provided to her in writing.
She said she was disappointed but saw no other option, so she accepted their resignations, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
City Manager Greg Chavarria announced afterwards that Hallandale Beach would get SWAT coverage through regional mutual aid arrangements with other police agencies, the Daily Mail reported.
“The City of Hallandale Beach continues to have special weapons and tactics coverage through regional mutual aid, which the City has used for SWAT operations in the past,” Chavarria said. “While the voluntary resignation of our officers from this assignment is unfortunate, our residents should be assured it has not had any impact on our commitment to protecting their safety.”