By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
“Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.” (Isaiah 26:20)
Last week Chief Andrew Smalling, one of a number of African American police chiefs in Broward County, abruptly and unexpectedly resigned from his office. To say it happened without warning is an understatement.
I’m trying to understand why he resigned. Although Smalling and the City Manager of Lauderhill say it was a mutual decision that Smalling resigned and there are no hard feelings of any kind, those statements do not carry the weight of total truth.
Why would a police chief who was continually being held up as an example of how a Chief should run a police department suddenly quit? Why would someone in a position of power and authority all of a sudden exit his office? If there were no pressures brought to bear by Lauderhill City Hall and no family issues, then wouldn’t a leave of absence be called for instead of a resignation if Smalling just needed some time off?
There are some who believe that Smalling was seen as a threat to Sheriff Scott Israel by Lauderhill City Manager Charles Foranda. There is little question that Smalling is qualified to be Sheriff but has, at least up to now, not publically expressed any interest in running for the office. It is known however that Sheriff Israel did call Foranda and ask if Smalling was going to run for the Sheriff’s Office. One wonders why the Sheriff would call the Lauderhill City Manager and ask such a question; what’s the connection there?
In addition, Chief Smalling has watched as the City Manager chipped away at his authority over the department over the last few years. Was there a final straw that broke the camel’s back? Did Smalling decide that enough was enough?
Some Lauderhill residents claim that the Lauderhill Fire Department receives more resources than the Lauderhill Po-lice Department. They say the police department is undermanned and over worked, that more officers need to be hired. One of the reasons the police department is undermanned may be that Lauderhill City Hall makes the final decision on who gets hired to the Lauderhill Police Department and not the police department itself. One would think the police department knows what kind of people it needs better than City Hall.
Lauderhill’s Acting Police Chief is Maj. Constance Stanley, a veteran of 24 years in police work, 21 of them in Lauderhill. She is an extraordinarily qualified individual and well pre-pared for the role of Acting Chief. We wish her well as she joins the ranks of African American police chiefs and the only woman police chief in Broward County.
Still, we all need to know what really happened with Chief Smalling. It is our hope this is not another case of an African American man being punished because of his capability, strength and proficiency for original thought. Especially when it comes to community policing.
As with Acting Chief Stanley, we wish Chief Smalling well in future undertakings but even more we wish we truly knew what or who caused him to resign…
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