Miami-Dade Police to face possible layoffs - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Miami-Dade Police to face possible layoffs

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Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera
Michael Hernandez, Director of Communicatios for the Office of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez Michael Hernandez, Director of Communicatios for the Office of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez

DORAL, Fla. (WSVN) -- Miami-Dade County officials said a large layoff may be looming for members of the county's police force, a measure, they said, they are taking in order to balance the budget.

According to opponents of the possible job cuts, hundreds of officers would be affected. "The mayor is threatening 416 or so police officers and 160 some-odd correctional officers to be laid off if we don't comply with his demands on the upcoming negotiations," said Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera.

The Office of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the county is working with a $140 million budget deficit, which means every department will face cuts. The lack of money has left Miami-Dade Police and 24 other departments short-staffed and over budget.

Gimenez's director of communications said the biggest point of contention is where to make the budget cuts. "There has been a preliminary estimate that approximately $40 million needs to be saved from Miami-Dade Police Department," said Michael Hernandez. "That is not a final figure. It is a moving figure."

The police department is asking Gimenez for $480 million to function in 2015 with its 2,752 uniformed and undercover officers, but Rivera said even that figure is not nearly enough to keep the streets safe. "We're already about 400 [officers] short, so we need to get more officers, not less officers," said Rivera. "We're not going to be able to respond to calls."

"It's the homicides, the greatest crime against humanity," Rivera continued. "Their closure rate is only about 20 percent because we don't have enough detectives and enough manpower to go out and follow the thousands of leads that they have, so what we have is murder is roaming the streets."

The union president went on to indicate other aspects of law enforcement that will be affected if the layoffs go into effect. "Child exploitation, that's done," he said. "If they steal your car, forget about it. We're not going to be looking for that car. There are some crimes where we don't even respond anymore. When has that ever happened?"

Hernandez said Gimenez does not want to see people out of work, but taking the deficit into consideration, the mayor is doing everything in his power to avoid job cuts while still balancing the county budget. "Those savings could be anything; it doesn't necessarily have to mean layoffs, and we're trying to avoid that," said Hernandez.

Miami-Dade Police Department officials said they are ready to fight the mayor for the money to hold on to every single officer because, they argued, the funds that go towards their salaries is the most important sum the county spends. "We're getting to a crucial point where either the mayor makes it a priority or the citizens will have to take up arms and protect themselves," said Rivera.

Representatives of the Miami-Dade Police Department are set to meet with the mayor's office and budget officials on June 23. Gimenez then has to take a budget proposal to the county commission by about mid-July.

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