Director of Miami’s Civilian Investigative Panel announces run for state Senate

Rodney Jacobs, the leader of a police watchdog agency created by Miami voters more than 20 years ago, is running for state Senate. But he says his campaign won’t interfere with his position as director of the city’s Civilian Investigative Panel.

Jacobs, 33, has led the agency since city commissioners approved his promotion late last year. As director, he oversees a watchdog group that “provides for independent and impartial citizens’ oversight of the Miami Police Department,” according to the City of Miami website.

The Army Reserve officer on Tuesday announced his campaign as a Democrat to represent state Senate District 35, which includes Pembroke Pines, Weston and the city where he currently resides, Miramar.

The district is currently represented by term-limited Sen. Lauren Book, who will leave office following the November 2024 election. Former Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief is also campaigning for the seat as a Democrat.

“I told myself, either I’m going to fight for Florida or I’m going to move, and I decided to fight for it,” said Jacobs on why he’s for running for office. “I’ve decided to raise my family in the district where we currently live. I have a 2-year-old and I often say that I want to give him the Florida that he deserves.”

He said economics, education, environmental issues and public health are the pillars of his platform. He said he is especially focused on insurance.

“Right now we have an insurance crisis in Florida that has pretty much gone ... unfixed by our state Legislature. There’s people in my district right now that probably paid off their mortgages and still have to move just because of the rising costs of insurance and taxes,” said Jacobs.

As for his current role with the Civilian Investigative Panel, he said he feels confident that his campaign will not interfere with his work on the panel or his ability to run it objectively.

“That is my first duty to the community and to the public and I’m not going to run away from ensuring that we have an accountable police department that is transparent and is doing the real work of public safety,” said Jacobs.

“In the work that I’ve done with the city over the last almost-decade now I’ve been able to be successful in that work because of my ability to be unbiased and look at the facts and be impartial.”