Arlington’s first African-American female assistant police chief announced this week that she is retiring and will take a police leadership role in Florida.
Lauretta Hill, a 20-year veteran of the Arlington Police Department, has been named deputy police chief for the Miami Beach Police Department. She is the highest-ranking African-American in that department’s history, Miami Beach city officials said.
“Lauretta has been a leader and strong contributor to our community for two decades. I have no doubt she will continue to be a trailblazer as she moves on to the next segment of her career,” Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson said. “Although we are deeply saddened for her to leave the Arlington Police Department family, we are very excited for her and the possibilities this new assignment presents.”
Johnson promoted Hill to assistant chief over support operations in September. In that role, Hill oversaw the department’s specialized units, which include criminal investigations, traffic, homeland security and special events as well as tactical operations. Hill said she was not seeking a new job when Miami Beach invited her to apply for the No. 2 police position.
“I love where I am and what I did,” she said. “This opportunity came to me. My family and I looked at it, prayed about it and I talked to my closest confidants, friends and family. It just seemed like the right decision for me at this time in my life.”
Mentored to succeed
Hill joined the department in 1994, a year after earning a bachelor’s degree in criminology/criminal justice from the University of Texas at Arlington. She said she made her career decision only after hearing former Police Chief Theron Bowman speak to college students about opportunities in the department.
During her tenure, Hill was named the first lieutenant to oversee the special events unit created by the city before the opening of AT&T Stadium in the entertainment district. She also directed security for Super Bowl XLV, the 2011 World Series and the 2010 NBA All-Star Game.
“I didn’t have any idea, from that first day in the academy, that I would become an assistant chief here. Did I know it was a possibility? Yes,” Hill said. “Every door that was opened, every person who mentored me or paid attention to me, I took note. I looked at those around me who were successful. I took a little bit of each one of them and that made me the officer and supervisor I became.”
Hill, who also received the Thurgood Marshall Award from the NAACP in 2004, earned a master’s degree in liberal arts from TCU and graduated from the FBI National Academy and the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute for Police.
She will join the Miami Beach department in early August.
“I will greatly miss the people and the friends. This is my second family,” Hill said.
Some “shocked” Hill is hired
Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates said his department is “extremely fortunate” that Hill agreed to take the leadership role.
“Her experience, integrity, professionalism and impressive body of work make her an exceptional choice. Lauretta comes to us from a well-respected and progressive police department,” Oates said in a media release.
Oates has been chief in Miami Beach for a month. He moved there from Aurora, Colo., where he was chief for seven years and won praise for his handling of the 2012 movie theater shooting, which left 12 people dead and 58 injured. He also served for 21 years in the New York Police Department and about five years in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Miami Herald’s report on Hill’s hiring said, “Miami Beach has selected another outsider for a top job in the city’s police department.”
Alex Bello, president of the Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police, said he was “shocked” and “disappointed” by Oates’ decision, the Herald reported.
“We’re disappointed that he didn’t give an opportunity for all the current staff within our agency and to learn a little bit more about them,” Bello said.
Oates had said he would not make changes in his first 90 days on the job.
“Certainly this doesn’t go hand in hand with what Chief Oates said,” Bello said.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives and The Miami Herald.