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A 53-Year-Old Miami Beach Commissioner Wants Permission to Quit, Become Beat Cop

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Miami Beach Commissioner Ed Tobin is nearly 53 years old. He's been a city commissioner for seven years and a working lawyer for almost 30. But now Tobin wants to begin a new career -- as a Miami Beach beat cop.

"I figured I'm not getting any younger," Tobin tells Riptide. "I got to get it out of my system."

Problem is, an ordinance forbids sitting commissioners from accepting city employment immediately after leaving the commission. But an exemption can be made if at least five of the city's seven commissioners vote in favor, and Tobin has requested a vote during tomorrow's commission hearing. If he wins, he says he'll submit his application to the police department and resign from the commission if he's hired.

Tobin insists the vote doesn't amount to him bending the city's rules, even though he helped approve the ordinance two years ago that he now wants an exemption from. The law always included a way for special cases to get a waiver, he notes.

"I'm not changing the rules," Tobin says. "The rules are there."

Tobin says it's been his dream to be a cop since was a kid. From the age of 13 to 18, he was a Miami Beach Police Explorer, a kind of traineeship facilitated by the Boy Scouts. As part of the program, Tobin did community service and tagged along on midnight patrols with officers.

"I was in uniform," Tobin says. "And we were trained -- we would use the radio, and a lot of times they would let us drive."

When Tobin turned 18, he says, all of his friends joined the force, but his parents were against it, so instead he went to law school and then worked as a prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer. But he never gave up his cop dreams. Even recently, as a commissioner, Tobin took six months off to graduate from the Miami Beach Police Academy. He's also been to command officer school and teaches law enforcement classes as an adjunct professor.

Can a 53-year-old attorney really be patrolling the streets for crime, though?

Tobin says he's physically fit enough for the work. "I'm in very good shape. I ran the Spartan last year," he says, referring to the grueling obstacle race.

If he's hired, Tobin says, he'll give up his commissioner benefits and start as an entry-level policeman, just like anyone else would.

"Just wait till you see," he says. "I'm going to be great at it."

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