Justification for corrections corporal's take-home car unclear

Miami-Dade take-home car cuts continue

Published On: Dec 06 2011 02:48:06 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 19 2011 02:52:36 PM EST
MIAMI -

A corporal at the Miami-Dade Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has a taxpayer-funded county vehicle 24/7, but his own department apparently doesn't know why. 

Luis De Los Santos is a union liaison whose office is inside the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association Building. 

According to county records, Miami-Dade taxpayers provide De Los Santos with a car, gas, insurance and maintenance.

According to a memo sent to Mayor Carlos Gimenez's office, Timothy Ryan, the director of Corrections writes, "The corporal assigned to the Police Benevolent Association has been granted a vehicle by past practice for many years. There is no contractual requirement." 

The memo goes on to say: "The removal of this benefit may create labor issues."

A second memo sent to the mayor's office said, "There is apparently no one who can provide the historical basis of this practice." 

Is that a good reason to give someone taxpayer funded car? 

Ryan refused to talk to Local 10. 

"That corporal does respond to different incidents,” said Marydell Guevara, deputy director of the Miami-Dade Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “Officers have rights, and when there is an incident, they have a right to speak to a PBA representative. That corporal does respond after hours, on weekends, to different facilities, and he does have documentation to that." 

Local 10 wanted to see that documentation, but neither the station nor De Los Santos’ department could get their hands on it. 

Since October, Local 10 has requested see the mileage logs De Los Santos is required to fill out. 

Corrections spokeswoman Janelle Hall claimed the department has also requested the documents from De Los Santos to no avail. 

"The use of the vehicle is very, very limited and only with the purposes of helping the Department of Corrections,” said PBA President John Rivera. 

Debra Graham, the commander of Food Services for the jail system, also has a taxpayer-funded vehicle. 

The Department claimed she has a critical 24/7 responsibilities for the oversight of multiple kitchens. Taxpayers spend thousand a year for Graham to have a county car 24/7. 

"There can be food issues, food emergencies. If there is a shortage or something happens in the kitchen, she does respond, and in corrections food can turn into a riot situation within seconds,” Guevara said. 

Local 10 checked Graham's mileage and activity logs provided to the station.

Graham used her county take-home vehicle to go to meetings, training sessions, inspections of facilities and to buy birthday balloons for a lieutenant, but no after-hours emergencies were indicated on any of the logs provided to Local 10. 

The Department only provided a few months’ worth of Graham's logs. Local 10 was told the rest were misplaced when Graham's county vehicle was taken in for service. 

The Miami-Dade Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation plans to reduce its take-home fleet from 44 cars to 21. 

A Department spokesman claimed that if De Los Santos doesn't provide his mileage and activity logs, he could face disciplinary action. 

As Local 10 has reported, because of costs, the mayor is looking to cut the county’s take home fleet. That process is ongoing.