stephen-johnson_web.jpgMIAMI GARDENS — Several months after the two top officers in the Miami Gardens Police Department resigned in the wake of a police abuse scandal, the city has hired a new chief.

Stephen E. Johnson, who started his law enforcement career with the University of Kentucky Police Department in 1983 and later built a career in North Miami’s police force and administration, has been tapped for the job.

He will assume duties in the state’s largest predominantly black municipality in May and will be “a dynamic asset” to Miami Gardens, City Manager Cameron Benson said Tuesday in announcing the appointment.

“He joins our city with a vast amount of experience, knowledge and service in the field and we look forward to working with him,” Benson said.

Johnson will take over a 220-person force, a few of whose members came under sharp scrutiny after business owner Alex Saleh accused a handful of officers of extensive harassment of employees and customers under a “zero tolerance” policy.

Officers stopped one employee, Earl Sampson, 28, more than 400 times in five years and arrested him more than 100 times, mostly for trespassing, according to The Miami Herald, which first reported the story.

Saleh and others filed a lawsuit over the practice.

Police Chief Matthew Boyd resigned last Dec. 11 and Deputy Chief Paul Miller, who was acting chief, submitted his resignation in February.

Benson said at the time he expected a new chief would take over when Miller leaves in mid-April.

Johnson joined the North Miami Police Department in 1984 after relocating to the area and moved through the ranks to become police chief. He was named interim city manager in 2010 and given the position permanently a year later.

“My passion for and commitment to the cause of serving and protecting our communities has only allowed me to accept this position with much humility, honor and respect,” Johnson said in a statement. “It is a privilege to serve as the new police chief for the city of Miami Gardens.”

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Barry University and is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.