Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has been clearing his agenda ahead of an expected tough battle over the county budget. At the heart of the battle will be the Miami-Dade Police Department which the police union believes is too small to work best for the area.
“We just do not have the personnel to respond to the needs of this community in terms of public safety,” said John Rivera of the Police Benevolent Association.
Rivera said there were 15 domestic violence detectives handling 4,042 cases. That breaks down to an average of 269 cases each for an average of 53 cases a month each over a five month period this year.
Currently, there are 3,100 police officers on the force with another 250 vacancies. Mayor Gimenez is wrestling with a county budget that will likely include shortfalls, but he has vowed to not raise taxes under any circumstances.
Gimenez has said that he’s looking at all departments for potential cuts, which isn’t sitting well with the rank and file. Police have said the number of cops who might be headed to the unemployment line this year could be as high as 419.
“The first thing a government must do, it is mandates, is provide security,” Rivera said. “He has not made that a priority.”
Staffers with the mayor said it’s too early to “say anything about layoffs or reductions.”
Police officers respond that 380 officers have been lost since 2007 and another 238 officers could be lost in the next 18 months due to retirement, attrition, and other factors. Add in the police-projected 419 officer layoffs, and it could be over 1,000 officers lost since 2007, not including 100 more officers that can retire at any time.
“We are trying to make the government more efficient while preserving the public safety,” said Mike Fernandez of Mayor Gimenez’s office. “It is not an easy thing to do when you are committed to not raising taxes on the citizens.”