The mayor and city commission of South Miami voted unanimously at a special commission meeting Friday to appoint South Miami Police Department Major Rene G. Landa permanent Chief of Police. Landa has served as Acting Chief since August 2013, when former Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro was terminated.
Chief Landa’s swearing-in was attended by chiefs from the Pinecrest, West Miami, Doral and University of Miami police departments, as well as District 7 County Commissioner Xavier Suarez. The commission chamber was packed with community leaders and well-wishers.
“Chief Landa clearly has the support of the community,” said South Miami Mayor Philip K. Stoddard. “He has been acting chief since August and has really stepped up to the plate and owned that job in a really unassuming way.” Stoddard, having recently walked the city extensively during his campaign for reelection, added: “The thing I was struck by is how everyone I spoke to said, ‘You’re going to make Landa the permanent chief, aren’t you?’”
Newly-elected Commissioner Gabriel Edmond said, “I’ve seen him in the community and along with his officers they have a way of reaching out to people.”
Acknowledging the mayor and commission for their approval of the appointment, Landa said: “I’m humbled and honored to stand before you, especially my staff and fellow officers…Our officers are always tied to the community, it’s who we serve.”
The South Miami Chief of Police is appointed by the City Manager. City Manager Steven Alexander advanced Landa’s appointment following a search process that involved a blueribbon committee of police leaders from around Miami-Dade County and an exhaustive interview process that offered members of the public to ask questions of candidates for the position. The city charter requires ratification of the appointment by the commission.
Under Chief Landa the South Miami Police Department recently achieved statelevel accreditation for the first time. “People are aware of the increased police presence now, and that’s important,” said Commissioner Walter Harris.
Landa was sworn in by Judge Alex E. Ferrer, former circuit court judge and star of the syndicated series “Judge Alex” on FOX TV. A sweet moment followed the swearing-in. “My wife was the first to pin my badge on me, and today it’s going to be my granddaughter,” Chief Landa said. The Chief’s baby granddaughter, Brianna, not yet a year old, then “pinned” his badge on him, with some help from her father and grandmother.
The South Miami Police Department is a full-service law enforcement agency with 50 sworn positions and eight civilian staff serving the 2.5-square-mile city.