'A trailblazer': North Miami swears in first Haitian woman police chief
More than 300 guests from around Miami-Dade gathered into a crowded auditorium in North Miami on Friday to celebrate a "trailblazer" making history at the city's police department.
Cherise Gause became the first Haitian-American woman to lead the North Miami Police Department earlier this month, following the retirement of former chief Larry Juriga.
At her swearing-in ceremony on Friday, elected officials and law enforcement leaders from around South Florida came to celebrate Gause's history of achievement — and the significance of her new posting as a role model for women of color.
"I could not be prouder to be here celebrating the swearing in of a trailblazer leader, and a symbol of progress," said U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson.
Gause previously served in the Miami Police Department (MPD) for more than 30 years. Starting as an emergency dispatcher, she worked her way up to become 1st assistant chief of police to MPD Chief Manuel Morales before taking the top job in North Miami at the beginning of August.
"Regardless of the city, she is going to do a fantastic job. We will definitely miss her in the city of Miami," Morales told WLRN on Friday. "The North Miami folks, the residents, are lucky to have her."
She will now lead a department which serves a population of about 59,000 people — more than half of whom are Black or African American, according to the most recent U.S. Census.
Gause said she hoped to be a role model for young women of all colors who wanted to pursue a future in law enforcement.
"This is a testament to young girls — Black, white, Hispanic — and people that aspire to have a career in law enforcement, that they, too, can achieve this level of leadership," said the new chief.
During the ceremony, Rep. Wilson honored Gause with a framed Congressional Record.
Wilson spoke to what she called a historic moment in Miami-Dade County, as Black women now lead four of the county's police departments: Stephanie V. Daniels at Miami-Dade County Police, Delma K. Noel-Pratt in Miami Gardens, Harvette Smith in North Miami Beach and now Gause in North Miami.
Also present was Florida State Representative Dotie Joseph, who spoke to the historical context of Gause's swearing in — particularly in Florida, where the Florida Board of Education recently approved contentious new curriculum standards over the teaching of African American history.
"I'm just going to highlight the historical moment that we're in right now to make sure we don't miss it, because we're in a state right now where they want to erase some of our black history and rewrite it," Joseph said.
Gause said her priorities coming into the department will be to increase police patrols and to prioritize community relationships through events that particularly target youth, like police community bike rides.