Changes to take-home car policy wanted

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman wants changes to policy

Author: Jeff Weinsier, Investigative Reporter, jweinsier@Local10.com
Published On: Mar 11 2013 02:41:51 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 05 2013 11:00:00 PM EST
MIAMI -

A Miami-Dade County commissioners wants changes to the county's take-home vehicle policy.

"Live and work in Miami-Dade County and we will give you a take-home car," said commissioner Sally Heyman. "If you want to live outside Miami-Dade County, have your own transportation because it serves no benefit to Miami-Dade County and has no impact on our security."

Under Heyman's proposal, new Miami-Dade police hires who live in Broward County will no longer receive take-home patrol cars. Under the current policy, officers can take their patrol cars home only if they live in Miami-Dade or Broward Counties.

Heyman said under her proposed resolution, the 445 officers who currently live and drive their patrol cars home to Broward would be grandfathered in.

"For the first time in years, we are hiring new police officers. We have three classes coming in and I think it is time to stop it and eventually it will be eliminated through attrition," she added.

She said the take-home cars used to be a recruiting tool when applicants were more difficult to come by.

The times have changed now. We have hundreds of applicants applying for a single position," Heyman added.

Heyman added that Miami-Dade officers have no jurisdiction outside the county, and her proposal would save money on fuel, insurance, and wear-and-tear on county-owned vehicles.

An anonymous email obtained by Local 10 that was sent to all Miami-Dade police officers titled "Here we go again" shows there is opposition. The email said Heyman is only targeting police and asks officers to flood her office with calls.

But the email didn't mention the change would only effect new hires.

"It is misinformation," said Heyman.

"Commissioner Heyman is providing the commission with erroneous and one-sided information, and is perpetuating bad government," Miami-Dade PBA President John Rivera told Local 10 in an email. "Further, it is deeply troubling and disheartening that Commissioner Heyman has chosen to single out and solely target the Miami-Dade Police Department while other future county employees remain exempt." 

After a Local 10 investigation two years ago exposed the number of county cars and trucks going home, Mayor Carlos Gimenez reviewed the situation and made the following reductions.

The corrections department maintains 41 take-home vehicles; fire rescue has 51; economic resources has 143; and, the police department has 2,601.

Many of the take-home vehicles are negotiated under a union contract.

Heyman's proposal goes before the entire Board of County Commissioners in April.