Next Tuesday 400 Miami-Dade County police officers will gather in a large banquet hall at FIU's football stadium in University Park, the Miami Herald reported Tuesday. The occasion? A frank talk about the officers' future unemployment.
Under county mayor Carlos Gimenez's current proposed budget, 228 officers -- or about a quarter of the entire force, according to John Rivera, president of the county police union -- are slated for layoffs beginning October 1, when next year's fiscal year begins. But the county's loss could be other departments' gain: Amid rumors of the layoffs the City of Miami and other local police departments have reached out to county officers, offering jobs.
"Most agencies are fully aware that Miami Dade's hiring practice and training is one of the most grueling and toughest," Rivera told Riptide. "You get a proven product."
On August 7th Manuel Orosa, the Chief of Police for the City of Miami, sent a letter to Rivera expressing his hope that "management and labor reach an amicable agreement that would prevent even one way layoff from occurring.
"In planning for a worst case scenario where a large number of your officers are laid off, however," the letter continued, the City of Miami Police Department will be accepting applications for certified police officers on September 2 and 3, 2014."
The letter also said that the City of Miami expects to hire up to 300 officers within the next three years; that kind of expansion, Rivera says, is typical of most departments around the state. "Except for Miami-Dade County. We're the only one that seems to go backwards."
The union chief said some Broward police departments, like the cities of Plantation and Hollywood, had also reached out to his officers ahead of the looming layoffs. He said the current situation marked the first time he'd ever seen police departments contacting another one offering jobs. "But times are what they are," he said. "And these other places...would love to have Metro-Dade-trained officers."
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Rivera blames Gimenez for the looming cuts, whom he says has always has money for pet projects like sports teams but then can't find any for public safety; Gimenez, in turn, says the union hasn't been willing to negotiate.
"There is a very good possibility we can avoid a large number of these layoffs, if not all of them," the county mayor said on Tuesday, the Herald reported. "But I need the PBA to come to the table."