Al Sharpton Wants Justice Department to Investigate Miami Police Department

Mayor Tomás Regalado isn't the only powerful enemy Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito has made in his relatively short run atop the department. Now, national civil rights leader and former presidential candidate Al Sharpton is calling for a federal investigation into the Miami Police Department. Sharpton is concerned over the recent string of police-involved shootings that have killed several black males.

Sharpton spoke last night at a meeting of the Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP and had strong words for the police department.

"We need to examine, from a federal level, how you can go over 20 months, I think it's 22 months, with no shootings, and then all of a sudden in seven months it's about a shooting a month," Sharpton said, according to NBCMiami. "There's something that changed."

Along with Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Sharpton has sent a letter to the Federal Justice Department asking for an investigation into the shootings.

"If I can come to tell black kids to abide by the law, we can tell the police to abide by the law," Sharpton said earlier Sunday, according to WSVN.

In a letter published this weekend in the Miami Herald, Exposito said he would welcome an investigation.

"I welcome a federal probe into the Miami police-involved shootings," the chief wrote. "So much so that I invited the FBI to be present at the post-shooting reviews conducted under my watch, since our first shooting back in July 2010. This is something my predecessors did not do. I took this step because it is a good practice and an example of my philosophy of 'transparency.'"

Exposito's leadership has been under fire, as some charge him with creating an atmosphere that has fostered the proliferation of shootings. Mayor Regalado has said Exposito has a "shoot first, ask questions later" attitude. Also, a TV promo for a reality show centering on the force surfaced in January; in it, Exposito calls his officers "predators." Exposito has led the force since November 2009.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kyle Munzenrieder