Police officers were expected to protest Tuesday evening outside the North Miami Beach city hall where commissioners were discussing proposed cuts to the police force.
North Miami Beach Police Officer Dukens Sannon may be affected if cuts are done by seniority. He has been on the force for 4-and-a-half years. He is bilingual and his knowledge of Creole has helped him conduct investigations that have led to arrests, including one man who was charged with second-degree murder.
“My language skills were a big benefit because the family is of Haitian descent. They spoke Creole and there was a language barrier with the officers that responded,” he said.
But the police union says the man may have never been caught if Sannon didn’t speak Creole. Union leaders say if proposed cuts got through, officers such as Sannon may loose their jobs.
“It’s kind of hard to not think about it be when we come here we have put our heads on straight to do our jobs and serve the public like we are paid to do,” he said.
While Sannon is considering going back to the National Guard, union leaders said loosing the ability to effectively and quickly communicate with a significant segment of the community is just one way the proposed cuts of 24 officers would hurt residents.
“Miami and South Florida are multicultural environment and we need our bilingual officers more than ever,” said Mike Pons, North Miami Beach Police Union representative.
North Miami Beach just one city where city leaders are at odds with police. In Hollywood, officers’ jobs have been on the line and pay cuts already in effect. The police union in Miami now says it will spearhead a recall of Mayor Tomas Regalado.
These collisions between police and cities are growing as funds become more scarce.
“Well you’re going to cut the specialized service that North Miami is accustomed to. They are not going to have that many detectives. Street crimes, proactive detectives looking for crimes in progress, that is going to be eliminated,” Pons said.
Hollywood’s city manager Lyndon Bonner said he doesn’t want cuts, but he worries about the city being solvent because the city’s bond rating has been lowered, and financial mistakes made in the past cannot continue.
Bonner said he will make sure that the number of officers out on road patrol are not reduced.