On his last day on the job, retiring Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus recognized a group of heroes who saved an officer’s life.
Loftus talked about how good it was to see Harry Burkli out and about, five months after the officer rammed his police cruiser into the back of a fire truck while responding to a crash in south Miami-Dade.
“Not the guy banged up in the hospital, not the guy who decided to park his car in the back of a rescue vehicle. We’ll get over that, Harry, and these guys will forgive you sooner or later, I’m sure,” Loftus said.
Burkli’s cruiser burst into flames on the evening of March 14. Police officers and firefighters, some of whom were hurt in the crash, reacted immediately to save his life. Loftus presented awards to five police officers and three members of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue on Friday.
“Words can’t express the way I feel right now. I mean, these guys saved my life, what can I say?” Burkli said.
The ceremony was Loftus’s last official public business as director of the department.
“What a great thing to get to do on your last day of work,” he said.
The 56-year-old announced Thursday that he was retiring effective Oct. 1 – but Friday was his last day on the job.
Loftus, who has been director since 2010, said it was his time to retire after 29 years with the department. He said he is ready to be with his family, and wants to spend his time on veterans affairs projects and the Wounded Warrior Project.
When he was asked on Thursday if he enjoyed being the police director, Loftus said he enjoys the great things that his department’s people do, but he doesn’t enjoy sending them into harm’s way.
There is just too much to worry about as the director, Loftus said.
On Friday, he walked that a bit.
“But every now and then you get to do something like this that rolls the worry back, and this is a tremendous thing. Thank you,” he said.