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Miami-Dade Police cuts by Carlos Gimenez cause concern

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Aside from Miami-Dade County’s lay off of 21 employees in the last couple of months to help deal with what Mayor Carlos “Not So Golden Boy” Gimenez  says is a bulging budget shortfall, the incoming policecarcrop of new police officers has been cut in half from four academy classes to two.

But Gimenez assured commissioners in the memo about budget cuts and layoffs he sent Thursday that the smaller number of recruits would “have minimal impact on our police coverage.” He said the department is in the middle of a restructuring process that will take officers from specialized investigative units and put them on the street.

That sounds good.

What he didn’t say is that these units include the narcotics unit and the economic crimes unit, which are now less able to follow up on those cases. What he didn’t say is that the county police department is already short between 250 to 800 officers, depending on who you ask and what levels you go by. What he didn’t say is that the gaping hole in the force could become a crater in the next two years as between 250 and 350 more officers retire. What he didn’t say is that there is already a growing backlog of cases and not enough cops to work them.

“Let’s take homicide, for example. We have thousands of leads on open murder cases and they can’t follow up because they don’t have enough detectives,” Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera told Ladra, adding that the Tactical Narcotics Team and the Robbery Intervention Detail — two pro-active units that target repeat, violent criminals — had also been decimated.

“And when we do away with the economic crimes unit, we are not going to be able to follow Medicaid fraud and credit card fraud and identity theft and those crimes will go up because people who do identity theft will know they can come to Miami-Dade and go to town,” Rivera said.

rid

Members of the Robbery Intervention Detail make an arrest

Veteran officers told Ladra that the rank and file know that the increase in crime and shootings in the Northside are linked to the shrinking of the TNT and RID undercover street units whose job it was to patrol in muscle cars, looking out for criminals on the prowl. Furthermore, they said, more cases countywide remain unsolved because while there may be officers to respond and write an initial report after a burglary or domestic crime, there are fewer detectives to follow up on those reports and actually investigate anything.

“I’ll write it up, but that’s where it will sit,” one officer said, “if you don’t have the investigators to follow up.”

Several officers said that statistics were being fudged by having robberies categorized as thefts and emergency calls made non-emergency calls. “People complain they can’t get an officer for a couple hours,” Rivera said. “We are asking people to go online and file their own reports.”

And, perhaps most concerning, the perception of putting more officers on the street is false, sources say. “Smoke and mirrors,” said one detective.

According to someone who regularly attends roll calls, squads are operating, on average, with one sergeant and four officers. And on any give day one officer may be sick and another may be in court. So you really just have two. If one officer makes a stop and, voila, there is suddenly a bench warrant, now she or he is out transporting a prisoner to TGK or DCJ. That leaves one officer to cover the area.

“We’re so damned shorthanded right now it’s not even funny,” Rivera said, adding that while there are about 250 vacancies, police force staffing totals at 3,100 (we have about 2,840-something) are down triple that compared to 20 years ago because of eliminated positions.

“They keep cutting positions from the books. Then they say ‘We are not short. We don’t have those positions,’” Rivera explained. “On the books, we are about 250 short. But in reality, we are 600 to 800 short in terms of where we once were.

riveragimenez

PBA President John Rivera, left, is among those who say Mayor Carlos Gimenez, right, is gutting the county police department

“We keep telling the people that we have community policing. That’s a crock of shit. We don’t have community policing anymore,” Rivera told Ladra Friday morning.

Now, of course people are going to say that Rivera is being political because of his way public, palpably hostile relationship with Gimenez – who also conveniently dismantled the public corruption unit last year and said it had nothing to do with the absentee ballot fraud investigation of his 2012 campaign. After all, the PBA supported former Mayor Carlos Alvarez against the recall and then former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina in 2011 and then former County Commissioner Joe Martinez in 2012 and basically will support anyone but our current mayor.

But Ladra spoke to several other county cops — all of whom will remain nameless because they are afraid the “vindictive” mayor would assign them the midnight shift in Overtown — and  county insiders who confirmed what Rivera said and offered more information.

The cargo theft unit, which handled crime at what county officials proudly proclaim is the busiest port in the country? Gone. The auto theft task force that stopped thieves from shipping stolen cars overseas? Gone. The medical crimes squad that busted illegal dentists working out of their garages? Gone. The counterfeit merchandise squad that recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in Rolex rip-offs and bogus designer bags? Gone. The “squatters unit” that targeted opportunists who illegally move into foreclosed homes and cause startling crime spikes in residential neighborhoods? Gone.

Tactical response teams, like this one responding to a police shooting in 2011, have been gutted.

Gone, too, will be hundreds of police officers soon. According to the department’s records, there are 55 officers leaving at the end of this summer because they have to. They are in the Deferred Retirement Option Program and must leave by the end of this fiscal year. Twenty others not in the DROP have submitted their paperwork for retirement this year, including Billy Hernandez, who announced Friday he was hired as assistant chief in North Miami. But that’s just the start of the “tsunami” that police brass have warned the mayor about. In 2015, another 69 officers have to retire because of the DROP. In 2016, it goes up more, to 117. And that does not count the 100 or so officers eligible to retire at any given time if they feel like they’ve had enough of this crap.

But, five months before that, we’ll have more vacancies and another problem because five members of the eight in the command staff will be gone in January of 2016 and will need to be replaced by majors who need to be replaced by lieutenants who will need to be replaced by sergeants and so on.

And since every new officer hired has to ride with a field training officer — who is also sorta taken out of regular service, or half taken out to train the rookie — for four months after the eight months of academy before he or she can pick up the radio and say “09-QSK,” it does not seem that the county is prepared for it.

“Come on! Who is going to believe that if you cut resources you are going to have the same level of protection,” asked one veteran cop. “It’s obvious to everyone that he is feeding that line to the commissioners and the public because he is doing what is politically expedient for him.”

“He doesn’t really care about the safety of the public,” Rivera said about the mayor.

“Him being mayor is all about him and feeding his ego and feeding his psyche, it is not about the community. The mayor and the county keep putting out false information. We are playing with numbers,” he said. “And at the end of the day, the director can’t refute it. His head will be on the chopping bock.”

But by the looks of it, practically all the heads at the police department are on that block already.

11 Responses to Miami-Dade Police cuts by Carlos Gimenez cause concern

  1. Daisy Reply

    March 14, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Great report as usual. As a former fireman, Gimenez may know how to put out fires but he knows nothing about how to police a community. The intent of Gimenez is to push for incorporation of large swaths of county areas and allow new cities to create their own police departments. By doing so he can justify reducing the MDPD to a ridiculous number of officers. What Gimenez does not understand is that in times of emergency (hurricanes, riots, nuclear incident, etc.) you must have a large police force to keep order. Gimenez’s advisors, Chip Iglesias and Lisa Martinez are experienced in fighting fires and as a teacher respectively. Can this community afford to place its safety on the hands of the listed individuals? Time to recall this mayor and bring some sense back to local government.

  2. Kennedy Rosario Reply

    March 14, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    MDPD is but a shell of its former self….ECU,OCB,RID,CTTF all acronyms to the public, what they truly refer to are concentrated, efficient,experienced units that kept our streets safe, in many instances as the necessary follow up to the reported crimes emanating from patrol units. Homicide, Robbery,Public Corruption Investigations Bureau downgraded to the point that the unknowing, lied to public is in more danger than ever before.The common denominator in this radical public safety, ill conceived venture is Mayor Carlos Gimenez with the self serving complicity of his minions. God help the citizens of Miami-Dade County for clearly Gimenez does not.

  3. not a fan Reply

    March 14, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    The irony is when Gov, Scott lowered the DROP payout forumla in 2011 not only cops but anyone even thinking of retirement stampeded to sign up before the July 2011 cutoff.

    The DROP formula is complicated but the bottom line is if you sign up for DROP and don’t retire by the end of the fifth year (July 2016) the penalty is huge. Some have since reconsidered leaving, suing in court to undo their decision to retire, but so far no one I know of has successfully challenged undoing their DROP once they signed up.

    The insurance companies have already done the math and the figure was so many older employees signed up in July 2011, the median age of the county workforce was going to drop nearly ten years by August 2016

    So a cynic might speculate the mayor after 3 years of a manufactured
    crisis blamed on the BCC and running for reelection in 2016 could suddenly “find” huge budget surplus as all these top earners gone, virtually overnight.. Presto, budget fixed, libraries reopened and cops on the street.

    Add to which lower salaries and restricted benefits for new hires, lower health care cost for a younger, healthier work force, maybe even a chance not to replace the fat at the top..

    OK wishful thinking but they know who is in DROP and what the number is but in all the hearings, workshops and long range planning I have never seen a hard figure, just alluding to a void in top management is coming and we need two port directors to cover it.

  4. dean Reply

    March 14, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    bottom line is that its so obvious that Gimenez is like a Johnny Jones and as the truth closes in on him, he will ask his disciples to drink the poison kool aide. and, the citizens will suffer in the meantime. i am not a supporter of recalls but if there ever was a cause its Gimenez. he seems to be a physiological dysfunctional mess.

  5. Silenced Citizen Reply

    March 15, 2014 at 1:27 am

    The Police Department isn’t just leaner, it’s past anorexic now. The decimation that Gimenez has already caused in 2 years is going to take a decade to repair. But the citizenry keeps buying the anti-public employee rhetoric that politicians are mining to win elections. By the time they wake up, there’s gonna be a busy signal on the other end of 9-1-1…

  6. 1of 55 Reply

    March 15, 2014 at 1:36 am

    For some reason, the Mayor thinks that it’s okay to police Miami as if it is a small, rural town where the Police Chief is also the Mayor, Barber and the Undertaker. Since he has constant protection, ample petty cash and medical insurance for life, what does he care. All I know is that the crime rate is rising, the bad guys know it. I feel for the community that depends on law enforcement. As for me, I own a gun and can hold my own.

  7. Montag Faber Reply

    March 15, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Why has the Miami Herald not screamed this information:

    “Gimenez – who also conveniently dismantled the public corruption unit last year and said it had nothing to do with the absentee ballot fraud investigation of his 2012 campaign.”

    With 3 Communications Officers dedicated to our Mayor’s office…it is amazing that the Herald elects to spin stories to the Mayor’s advantage, rather than to the advantage of the communities his administration is supposed to serve?

  8. Future retiree Reply

    March 15, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    I am not writing to pile on, however, the truth needs to be told. I have seen this incredible Department go from being one of the elite in the nation, to not even being the best in Miami-Dade County. This Mayor is destroying us and Director Patterson is not standing strong. Can you see Fred Taylor allowing this to go one? What PBA President John Rivera is stating is 100% true. Mayor Gimenez is gutting this department like some type of animal that has been killed. The numbers of the declined officers is absolutely correct and the Community Policing efforts are all just about GONE. On top of that we have lost incredible leaders that other municipalities have taken. Alex Casas, Gone. Bill Hernandez, Gone. Scott Dennis, Gone. Three leaders, with vast experience, that have chosen to take their talents elsewhere. Why is that? Because they are not “Yes men.” Because they are “out of the box thinkers.” Perhaps just simply, they are not part of the current click. I am not sure. But what I can see is that more great people will depart from this once great department, leaving only followers and “Yes men.” Good luck to all of us who have time still left.

  9. Tired Resident Reply

    March 15, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Miami-Dade Public Library System

    As of this moment is time, 404 full timers / 37 PT covering 49 locations
    No new hires in over a year.

    FY 2008-09 staff peaked at 650 FT / 200 PT
    In 1999, there were 461 FT covering 32 locations

    The mayor’s word du jour is “efficiency.” Destroy the collection budget, destabilize the staff, reduce hours, reduce days and then ask why the library isn’t “blowing his mind.”

    I’d appreciate a current tally of Park’s staff as it’s been said over 1,000 park staff have been dismissed.

  10. Becky Phillips Reply

    March 15, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I am the grandmother to two female police officers in the Miami area and your cut backs are of concern to me. I now live out of state but travel back to Florida about four times a year. I was 40 plus year resident in an area north of Miami and each time I make that trip I am amazed at the increase in crime and make sure I am not on the streets after dark, something I never consider where Inlive now. I read about the crime in the Miami area and it would seem that your county commissioners would find another avenue for cut backs rather than in the police force. The cut backs, in my view, places your now officers in a position to be over woked and maybe without proper back up when they face a serious problem. It is a sad sitution when we notify the public and tose that would commit a crime that you are cutting the force to meet some budget cuts. Wake up miami and take a stand.

  11. Concerned Resident Reply

    March 17, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    The first thing Mayor Gimenez did was lower property taxes for Jorge M. Perez. Gimenez saved this real estate developer millions of dollars. He saved us about $30 a year.

    Then he restored funding cuts for the Jorge M. Perez Art Museum of Miami-Dade County.

    It created a huge deficit. He paid for it by gutting county services and forcing the county employees to pay for it.

    Open your eyes people. He is only here to help his friends. These latest cuts to the police department will bring us back to 1980 crime levels before we hit 2019.

    http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/blog/morning-edition/2012/07/proposed-miami-dade-budget-cuts-tax.html

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