New Police Director plans to restore trust
MIAMI (WSVN) -- The new man at the helm of Miami-Dade Police is talking about taking the department in a new direction.
J.D. Patterson was 22 years old when he was hired as an officer with the Miami-Dade Police Department. Thirty years later, he is the department's director. "I've always believed," he said, "that if you do the best that you can where you are then good things will happen."
Patterson said good things have been happening to him all his life. Besides becoming top cop at Miami-Dade, he is happily married with a family. In fact, more than 25 years ago, he and his wife were married in the same church where Patterson is also a reverend.
But new jobs do not come without new challenges. Just last week, his first day on the job, Patterson was dealing with a scandal in the department that saw some officers fired and others suspended. "When an officer does something improper," said Patterson, "I don't really lose a lot of sleep over enforcing the rules."
An internal investigation revealed several members of the Miami-Dade Police Department's Kendall District ignoring service calls. Surveillance video caught officers sipping coffee and kissing unknown women leaning into patrol cars instead of responding to emergencies. Three were fired, five others were suspended.
One of Director Patterson's first jobs now is to restore trust. "We're here to help you," said Patterson. "We're not going to tolerate somebody not coming when you make a call to service. We're not going to tolerate anybody not doing their best and trying to resolve your issue or your crime."
The new director also found himself working with a lean budget. In just the last three years, nine bureaus closed across the county.
He said he is well aware more trimming may be asked of him. "I want to believe that cuts are not gonna be looming on the horizon," said Patterson, "but if they are, I'm prepared to make some choices. I'm prepared to look at some positions."
Looking ahead, Director Patterson said, he plans to continue to fight for things he said attract quality recruits, like pension plans and retirement packages.
But, in the meantime, he said his priority is to serve the community he has called home his whole life and remind its residents that they are on the same team.
(Copyright 2013 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)