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Opa-locka Police Chief Scott Israel reflects on job one year later

Opa-locka Police Chief Scott Israel reflects on job one year later
Opa-locka Police Chief Scott Israel reflects on job one year later 04:04

OPA LOCKA- It's been one year since Former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel has started his new role as police chief of the Opa-locka Police Department.

The chief revealed there were two big challenges when he started in his new post.

"I saw a police force that was talented but, in some cases, misguided," Israel said.

The other issue was community relations.

"There was pretty much a deep disconnect between the police department and the community," he said.

To repair the broken relationships and create new ones, Israel said he went into the community and started gaining more visibility.

CBS News Miami went on a city tour with the chief to see some of those claims in action.

Before starting the new chapter in Opa-locka, the former Broward County Sheriff was suspended, later fired by Governor Ron Desantis following the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. 

A move Israel disagrees with.

"For me to be suspended was a sham, it was political nonsense," he said.

Former school resource officer at Stoneman Douglas, Scot Peterson, is facing several counts of child negligence. 

His trial begins at the end of the month.

Peterson and Israel have notoriously disagreed with the events of that day.

"The facts are the facts are the facts and what happened with Scot Peterson that day, it wasn't a training issue, it wasn't a policy issue. It was an issue of courage. He should've went in. He knows that" Israel said.

That was the past, Opa-locka is now, and the chief explained that tackling the negative reputation is something he is actively prioritizing.

"In Opa-locka, if a juvenile commits a misdemeanor crime that we can arrest them for, we don't. We issue the youngster a civil citation and that allows them to get help."

The hope, Israel says, is to divert the behavior and get the youth help with drugs, anger management, mental health services - whatever they need.

As the chief reflects on one year on the job, he says the biggest challenge that remains is continuing the work they've been able to accomplish in year one.

"No city can be safe without the police department and no police department can be successful without the citizens. So, we have to be one team, one fight," he said.

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