After Miami Beach Police Sgt. Mike Muley was caught drunk while working an off-duty assignment at Mango's last month, new Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates responded with a harsh edict: Beginning this month, MBPD cops are banned from working nightclub security jobs. The union balked, complaining that banning the jobs would make clubs less safe. Their resistance, they said, had nothing to do with the money.
But how much cash will Beach cops lose under Oates' new policy?
A New Times records request found that 80 Miami Beach Police officers earned a combined $377,090.50 from off-duty nightclub work from July 21, 2013, to July 21, 2014. The top-grossing officer was Jerome Berrian Jr., who earned $27,877 in the 12-month period working details at Wet Willie's, Nikki Beach, and Story. Two other officers, Eric Schultz and Omar Marrero, took in more than $20,000 each from the assignments, and a dozen others, including Sergeant Muley, earned more than $10,000. Officers were paid $38 an hour for security work at the clubs (the total off-duty amounts also included some income for coordinating security); and on holidays they earned double -- $76 an hour. This past New Year's Eve alone, Berrian took in a whopping $1,254 for a 16.5-hour shift at Nikki Beach.
Sgt. Alex Bello, the head of MBPD's police union, maintains that officers oppose the policy on safety grounds. Cutting the off-duty assignments, he says, will make clubs more dangerous and cost taxpayers more because on-duty officers will have to answer more late-night calls.
"What we've seen now in this last week is an increase in calls of service," says Bello, who earned $2,100 himself in the past year from the off-duty pay, mostly coordinating security at Story. "If there would have been officers there, then that would not have been a drain on our resources."
Regardless of how much cops made protecting nightclubs under the old system, he says, taxpayers should be more worried about their own bills rising under Oates' policy.
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"The bigger picture," he says, "is residents should be concerned that they're now paying for officers to respond to these calls when that should be something that the business owners should be handling."