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First woman sworn in as Miami-Dade’s top cop

Stephanie Daniels, a 31-year veteran of the department, has served as interim police director since June 2023

By Omar Rodríguez Ortiz
Miami Herald

MIAMI — Miami-Dade Police Director Stephanie Valencia Daniels, the first woman to lead one of the largest law-enforcement agencies in the United States, was sworn into office Wednesday, pledging to lead the agency with respect and integrity in a ceremony that marked the watershed moment.

Starting as a police officer with the department in 1992, the Liberty City native climbed up the ranks of the largest local police department in the Southeastern U.S. with about 5,000 employees, including 3,100 sworn officers.

At the Port Miami ceremony, Daniels, 55, said she was “filled with a profound sense of gratitude.”

“This ceremony not only marks a personal milestone for me, but a collective affirmation about sheer commitment to service (and) excellence in this community,” said Daniels, who will make an annual salary of $251,473. “Together we will uphold the highest standard of law enforcement and serve as a model of excellence to our law enforcement peers across the nation.”

Daniels alluded to her faith in God and thanked Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, former Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez, her command staff and police officers and her husband of 36 years, Capt. Desi Daniels of the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department.

“I’m committed to honoring your trust by dedicating myself to this role with integrity, passion and diligence,” Daniels told Levine Cava.

Daniels replaced Ramirez, who stepped down last year after shooting himself in July following a dispute that forced him and his wife to leave a Tampa hotel, where he was attending a law enforcement convention. Levine Cava appointed Daniels as interim director the day after Ramirez shot himself on July 23. On Nov. 13, she named her director.

Retired Miami-Dade Officer Sherri Locket, Daniels’ former field training officer, spoke about Daniels during the director’s early years in the force.

“She had confidence but she was not arrogant,” Locket said. “She was humble, treated people with respect.”

Daniels did not get where she is because she is a woman or because she is Black, Levine Cava said. The mayor said she appointed her because of who she is as a person and as a professional.

“But I do want to acknowledge that these firsts mean a lot to me, to all of us,” Levine Cava said. “Today truly is a historic moment.’

Daniels was sworn in to uphold the law and the U.S. Constitution by putting her right hand on the Bible, which was held by her husband. Two of her three adult children, De’Andre and Desi Daniels, are also serving with Miami-Dade corrections.

5 things to know about Daniels

▪ Daniels was appointed as Miami-Dade Police Department’s deputy director on Feb. 18, 2023 , becoming the first woman to serve in the role. Among many responsibilities, she oversaw all uniform patrol districts throughout unincorporated Miami-Dade, including Miami International Airport and Port Miami.

▪ She introduced the Computers for Guns Initiative, which gives Miami-Dade residents computers and training in exchange for relinquishing their firearms.

▪ She initiated the Youth Outreach Unit, which provides one-on-one mentorship to youth throughout the county.

▪ She has served as president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, an organization with a mission to “promote justice, equity and excellence in the administration of justice.”

▪ Daniels graduated from Nova Southeastern University in Broward with a master’s of business administration in 2001. In 1999, she graduated from St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens with a bachelor’s in organizational leadership. She is a graduate of Miami Northwestern Senior High.

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