An entire South Florida SWAT team resigned over criticism from 22-year-old vice mayor who was elected while a student

cdavis@insider.com (Charles Davis)
·3 min read

HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA - JUNE 03: Demonstrators participate in a caravan to protest against police brutality and the recent death of George Floyd on June 03, 2020 in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Protests continue to be held in cities throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, who was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25th.

GettyImages 1243887391
GettyImages 1243887391

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • The Hallandale Beach SWAT team collectively resigned their assignment this week, complaining of criticism from 22-year-old Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana.

  • The SWAT team made headlines in 2014 after it raided the home of 34-year-old Howard Bowe, killing him and his dog. In 2018, the city agreed to pay Bowe's family a settlement of $425,000.

  • "I think I have the gall to stand up to their intimidation tactics because justice for victims like Howard Bowe is far more important than worrying about letters like this," Javellana told Business Insider.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Hallandale Beach is a small community in Southern Florida that, as of this week, no longer has a SWAT team.

In a June 9 memo made public on Friday, members of the Hallandale Beach Police Department SWAT Team announced their collective resignation, citing local politicians' critique of law enforcement.

"The City Administration has shown a clear disdain for our agency," the officers wrote in a memo first reported on by local television network CBS12, singling out Vice-Mayor Sabrina Javellana.

"She has actively protested against us," they complained. "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."

In particular, the officers — who are resigning their assignment, not their jobs — lament that members of the police command took a knee "in solidarity with Vice-Mayor Javellana… and a handful of political activists," who have called for the SWAT team itself to be investigated.

Javellana, who was elected while still a student at Florida International University, has no plans to back down from her criticisms of local police.

"Who knew a 22-year-old college student could make grown people lose their minds just by stating what I think about things?" she told Business Insider. "I've stated, and do believe, that it's easy for us to condemn what happened in Minneapolis to George Floyd, but to acknowledge we have our own victims of police brutality, locally, is more difficult and uncomfortable but necessary."

As The New Times Broward-Palm Beach has noted, the Hallandale Beach SWAT team "has a notorious record of raiding homes in Hallandale Beach for small amounts of drugs." Often, however, "it doesn't find any drugs at all."

In 2014, the Hallandale Beach SWAT team killed 34-year-old Howard Bowe as he stood, unarmed, in his kitchen. Officers, who were executing a pre-dawn search warrant as part of a drug investigation, also killed his dog.

In 2018, the city approved a $425,000 settlement with Bowe's family. No officers involved in the raid were ever convicted of a crime, though eyewitnesses claim they failed to announce themselves before entering Bowe's residence.

Javellana, who has drawn attention to the case as both an activist and an elected official, said she doesn't mind if she offends the likes of her local SWAT team.

"I think I have the gall to stand up to their intimidation tactics because justice for victims like Howard Bowe is far more important than worrying about letters like this," she said.

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