Ten members of a Florida police SWAT team quit their roles this week, citing “today’s political climate” and its effect on their jobs as the reason for doing so.
The SWAT team officers in Hallandale Beach, Broward County, wrote in their letter of resignation, dated June 9, that the city’s police force was “minimally equipped, under trained and often times restrained by the politicization of our tactics to the extent of placing the safety of dogs over the safety of the team members.”
The authors of the latter claim that they have received a lack of support from the city’s administration and police command staff, particularly since the nationwide eruption of the Black Lives Matter protests.
Specifically, the officers point to the recent decision by the command staff who took a knee in solidarity with the protestors in the city during a demonstration on Monday, June 8.
Pointing to that blatantly political act, the officers explain that, “until these conditions and sentiments are rectified and addressed we cannot safely, effectively and in good faith carry out duties in this capacity without putting ourselves and our facilities at this needless increased level of risk.”
New: Just obtained the resignation letter from members of the Hallandale Beach Police SWAT unit, who are resigning from SWAT, but not the entire PD, in response to their chief taking a knee with #blacklivesmatter protesters pic.twitter.com/qQq8rHIBED— Jerry Iannelli (@jerryiannelli) June 13, 2020
The SWAT team members - who are trained in military tactics and heavy weapons to carry out a raft of crime-busting missions, from counter-narcotics to hostage situations - write in the letter that, the recent protests have meant that officers are operating “under… conditions with a growing sense of hesitancy.” They also make clear that they feel unsupported by the city’s leadership.
“The City Commission has openly disrespected officers individually, during campaigns and on the dias. The Vice-Mayor, Sabrina Javellana has openly made ignorant and inaccurate statements attacking the lawful actions of the city’s officers and SWAT team both from the dais and her social media accounts. She has actively protested against us. 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,” they write.
The developments comes amidst simmering tensions between law enforcement and Black Lives Matter protestors across the US following the May 25 killing of an unarmed African-American man, George Floyd, by a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. Mr Chauvin has since been arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Mr Floyd’s death has culminated in calls for the federal government to enact new and stricter measures on the use of force by police nationwide. Some critics of the police, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, have joined calls for the US to “Defund the Police” following the killing of Mr. Floyd.
In a similar move to the 10 Florida SWAT team members, 60 police officers from an emergency response team in Buffalo, New York, quit their posts on June 5. Those officers made their move as a gesture of solidarity following the suspension of two fellow police officers without pay who were accused of pushing an old aged protestor the ground. The incident was caught on camera and subsequently went viral on social media.
The two officers in question were then arrested on charges of second-degree assault.