A 10-member SWAT team for a Florida police department has resigned en masse after their chief knelt with racial justice protesters, saying they felt “restrained by the politicization of our tactics.”
The letter of resignation from the SWAT team in Hallandale Beach, Fla., was delivered to city officials on Friday, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
“The risk of carrying out our duties is no longer acceptable to us and our families,” the officers wrote, adding that the unit felt it was “minimally equipped, under trained, and often times restrained by the politicization of our tactics.”
The officers said they took exception to the comments and actions of one city official at a recent protest, who took a knee with other demonstrators and raised a 2014 shooting incident by the SWAT team that left an unarmed black man dead. The city’s police chief joined in kneeling.
A review found the shooting justified and the victim’s family was awarded a little more than $400,000 in a settlement.
The city official, Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana, “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,” the SWAT officers said, adding that they felt the chief’s decision to join Javellana in kneeling at the recent protest was an endorsement of her criticisms of the SWAT team.
Javellana defended her actions, saying “we have our own George Floyds and Breonna Taylors in our own city that we must address before we can heal and reform”
While the officers resigned from the tactical unit, they have not resigned from the department. Officials said they would rely on neighboring police SWAT teams until the matter is resolved.
The city’s police chief is set to meet with the officers’ union on Monday to discuss the resignations, according to the mayor.
“I will be following up with our chief of police, following up with our unions and, most importantly, ensuring that our accredited department has the resources and the training that they need to protect and serve our public,” Mayor Joy Cooper told the newspaper.