Miami-Dade County Police Director Juan Perez Says He'll Step Down in January

Photo by Miami-Dade Police Department
Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez
Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez, leader of one of the ten largest police forces in America, abruptly announced his retirement this afternoon in a series of tweets. While Perez said he's stepping down to spend time with his family and that the department has "been succession planning for some time," his resignation comes mere days after his officers received national scorn after taking part in a wild hostage shootout in which 18 police officers from multiple departments fired more than 200 bullets at a UPS truck that had been taken hostage by bank robbers. The shootout killed the two robbers, the UPS driver who was taken hostage, and another innocent bystander.

Of the 18 cops who fired their guns, 13 were Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) officers. Perez said in his tweets that he'd been looking to make an exit for some time, and sources confirmed to New Times today that Perez had been speaking to others about his pending exit for quite some time. When he was appointed in 2016, he said he intended to retire in 2020.
Perez likely would not have held onto his job for the rest of 2020. In 2018, the state passed a constitutional amendment requiring every county in Florida to have an elected sheriff. Miami-Dade County had rid itself of the elected sheriff position decades ago out of fear that elected sheriffs are easily corrupted, but state voters have forced the county to change course and hold an election for the position in November 2020. Perez's boss, county Mayor Carlos Gimenez (who was a firefighter but has never been a cop), has long been rumored to be mulling a run for sheriff.

Today, Gimenez and other county officials publicly told Perez they appreciated him.
Perez has weathered a series of scandals at MDPD in recent years. Earlier this year, one of his officers was arrested and charged with battery after he was filmed tackling a woman and claiming she needed mental help just because she tried to report that her neighbor had threatened to murder her with a shotgun. The woman, Dyma Loving, has since sued the department.

Perez also consistently fought against increased civilian oversight of his department during his time as director. In 2018, as the Miami-Dade County Commission debated reviving the Independent Review Panel, a board of civilians who look into police complaints, Perez stood in front of the county government and argued that increased oversight of his department was "not needed." Commissioners disagreed and voted to recreate the panel. But Gimenez, Perez's boss, then vetoed the resolution.