The Greater North Miami Historical Society

 

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1980

1. North Miami Police

In 1980, Tom O’Connell succeeded Chief Devany. He was the department’s first trained undercover officer and started the Narcotics Unit under Chief Thurman in 1969. During Chief O’Connell’s tenure, he changed the “look” of the department, by introducing navy blue uniforms and adding colorful striping to the police vehicles instead of the plain “black and whites”. He implemented the department’s Homicide and Canine Units and promoted the department’s first minority hire to the rank of Sergeant. In the early hours of November 5, 1980, Officer Carl Mertes was the first North Miami police officer to be killed in the line of duty. It was, the first death of an officer among its ranks, the force was devastated. Chief O’Connell retired in April of 1983.