John F. Timoney, the former police commissioner of Philadelphia and former first deputy commissioner in New York, has been chosen as the next chief of police in Miami. He is taking on a challenge as the new head of a department mired in controversy, as well as an outsider.

Timoney, 54, will officially take over from Raul Martinez on Jan. 2. The 1,100-member department is facing several lawsuits and accusations of police brutality.

Timoney said in an interview that his first priorities as chief will be to review the department's use-of-force policies and to reach out to minority residents to ease racial tensions.

"I think on the short term--and these issues are related--we will be dealing with issues of police use of force, how we train officers, and how we also educate on guidelines of using deadly force,"Timoney said. "At the same time I will help improve police community relations, particularly with the African-American community. Other ethnic minorities may feel they are not getting a fair shake and I think we need, in this day and age, to make sure police departments are cognizant of the diversities of a major metropolitan city."

Timoney beat out three other candidates for the job of Miami's police chief. He had applied several months ago for the job of LAPD police chief, but lost out to William J. Bratton, his former boss at NYPD.

Timoney says being an outsider in a department that usually promotes from within will be a benefit as well as a challenge.

"The force is always resentful of outsiders and I understand that," he said. "The positive is that I come with no baggage, no preconceived notions, no favors, and no alliances. My loyalty is to the guy who brought me in, the mayor who wants to improve the police department and wants to improve the quality of life in Miami."

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