Rick Clements, a 29-year veteran of the Miami Beach Police Department today became its new Chief. Clements served as Deputy Chief for the past three years under retiring Chief Dan Oates. His new Deputy Chief is Wayne Jones, himself a 23-year veteran of the Department.
Mayor Dan Gelber emphasized the appointments from within during the swearing-in ceremony for both this morning. To the many police officers who packed Commission chambers, he said, “That is an incredible testament to your dedication, to your service, to your professionalism, to your commitment to our residents.”
Gelber said he reads all of the police incident reports on a daily basis and calls those who have been injured “because it’s important that I and our Commission and our city let our police know that we respect them and that we are grateful to them. Our police do something that is pretty incredible. Every single day they wake up and they agree to put themselves in harm’s way sometimes. That’s a pretty incredible thing.”
Noting they are often put in difficult situations, he said, “Our police do amazing things every single day. They give warning and use lethal force as a last resort when their adversaries will never do that. They abide by the Constitution when their adversaries never do that. And they suffer incredible scrutiny, especially in a city like ours, when anything that happens, even a bad bounce can be a negative to them. We understand that and I just want you all to know that our city is very grateful to our police for the work they do every single day. We care about you. We appreciate you and we respect you and you should never forget that, ever.”
To the new Chief and Deputy Chief, Gelber said, “We think this is going to be a wonderful period in Miami Beach and we know that you’re going to do a wonderful job.”
Clements, who was sworn in by his father, Miami Beach Police retired Sgt. John Clements, said he had two role models in his life who provided “big shoes to fill,” his grandfather who “epitomized what hard work was” and his father, who “epitomized what law enforcement was.”
“The other big shoes to fill, Chief, are yours,” he said to Oates. "You’ve done some wonderful things and established some really great things here that we’re going to build on.”
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you how apprehensive I was about assuming this role,” Clements said. “It’s always easy to be number two. He took the shots. I stood behind and said ‘Oh,’” as he pointed at Oates.
Clements thanked his team, noting that good leaders “surround themselves with good people” and he told them he looked forward to watching them grow over the next four and a half years, when he’s eligible for retirement.
When he thanked his parents, his father shouted, “We couldn’t be prouder.”
Clements thanked City Manager Jimmy Morales for his support while anticipating “There are going to be some trials and tribulations along the way.” He remarked on the Mayor and City Commissioners’ unanimous support for his appointment and told them, “Thank you all for your vote of confidence. I promised you then, I promise you now, I won’t let you down.”
Finally, “To all the police officers, I thank you,” Clements said. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I promise you, I promise you that I will listen and I will lead and we will go to new places in what I guess you would call our destiny as we move forward down this road. You have my 110% support.”
FOP President Kevin Millan and former President Bobby Jenkins presented Oates with a gun, a tradition for outgoing police officers. “I know that we didn’t always make it easy,” Millan said. “It’s not easy coming in here to Miami Beach as an outside chief.” Oates came to Miami Beach after serving as police chief of Aurora, Colorado. He was praised for his handling of the movie theater shooting there in 2012.
Millan thanked Oates for his focus on training and peer support. “You see it every day in the news, how officers are affected,” he said, “and that’s probably the best thing he brought here was that peer support.”
Then it was Oates’ turn to say his farewells. First, he handed Clements and Jones private letters. “Basically, it says ‘Congratulations. You’re superstars, etc. but now you have these new exalted ranks and more is expected of you. Go forth, have fun, good luck,” he said.
Oates, who as chief sometimes found himself between a rock and hard place with elected officials and members of the community, had a parting message.
“A couple of remarks concerning Rick. This is a favor to you,” he said looking at Clements. “My first message for the constituencies of the new chief is give him a break, okay? Being a chief in a complex city like this is all about balance… We are in the behavior control business and there’s no way around it.”
To Clements, he said, “How many times have you and I talked about speeders on Alton Road? And what are the two voices we heard? What are you doing about speeding on Alton Road and why do you have speed traps on Alton Road? Why aren’t the police officers catching bad guys or doing something else?”
Oates said, at times, Clements will be in positions where “he’s going to make decisions that, in the end, are occasionally going to disappoint people in this room. And that’s the job. The job of the police chief is to say on this occasion, for this and that reason, we can’t do what you would like us to do. In other words, to say no.”
“So, give Rick a break,” he repeated.
As Gelber did, Oates referenced the Constitution. “There are things that we cannot do in a free society as the police. Sometimes there are expectations on the part of some interests in the City that we do them,” but he said the police have to “cite the rights of individuals in this society that we have a sworn oath to protect. So, like I said, give Rick a break.”
“Final comment,” Oates said. “The mayor mentioned it when he talked about policing. One of Rick’s constituencies, which is sometimes lost in our conversations about policy, is our cops. We have spectacular cops in this city and they work really, really hard every day and getting back to the mayor’s other comments, I don’t know another profession in America where to take the job is to be guaranteed a hundred percent during the course of your career you’ll be injured… That’s the nature of our job. Cops put themselves at risk every day. We don’t all get seriously injured but we do all get injured in the course of a career… that’s what your police officers do here every day is put themselves at risk.”
Those cops are “very sophisticated about this town,” Oates said. “They know it really, really well and they know authenticity when they see it and if you ask Rick to do something that isn’t authentic and sell it to the cops, that’s unfair to Rick. It’s unfair to the cops.”
He referenced previous conversations with Morales “where some idea is put forward and I said, ‘Jimmy I understand what’s being asked. It’s not authentic. The cops won’t buy it.’ These folks, we ask a lot of them and they deliver but, in return, they ask for authenticity from their bosses, from their leaders, and you’re all their bosses. You are the public that we serve so, please, keep that in mind.” And, with that, Oates declared the event “done.”
Clements holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from the University of Utah with professional certificates from Northwestern University, Boston University and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy. He was a sniper on the department’s SWAT team for 16 years. In 1995, Clements suffered a gunshot wound to his thigh while pursing an armed suspect. In addition to his father serving the MBPD, Clements’ son is also an officer with the Police Department.
Jones’ career has included service on patrol and in special operations, community affairs, internal affairs, and criminal investigations. Most recently, he oversaw all criminal investigations as Major of the Criminal Investigations Division. Jones, a licensed pilot, holds an Associate of Science Degree in Aviation from Miami-Dade College and a dual Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Administration and Political Science from Florida Memorial University. He also earned a graduate degree in Public Administration from Florida International University and is a 2003 graduate of the Miami Fellows Initiative, a two year post graduate leadership program.
Miami Beach Swears in New Police Chief, Deputy:
Dan Oates retires after five years
New traffic pattern expected to be in effect until mid-2023
Cars must be moved on designated days for more efficient street sweeping
City Commissioners push for solutions to “overabundance" of the floating seaweed