Miami-Dade Police officer Reasha Thomas, who hoped to spend her entire law enforcement career in her hometown, is now one of 90 officers facing a possible layoff next week.
"I don't think anyone becomes a police officer to do it or a couple of years," Thomas said. "You have to have a passion for this type of work."
Thomas followed in her father's footsteps as a Miami-Dade officer, choosing to work the midnight shift because it's good for her seven-year-old and four-month-old sons. Her husband is in the military, stationed in North Carolina.
She patrols some of the county's highest crime zip codes, including the neighborhood where she grew up.
"Not everyone is a criminal; not everyone is going to jail," Thomas said. "Sometimes people just need someone to talk to, someone to vent to, guide them in the right direction. And if I can help one person, I'm happy to."
Thomas learned on the news about the 90 layoffs possible next week if the police union does not give in to the salary cuts Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez says he needs to balance the budget. She realizes she may be one because of her seniority status.
In a memo to one of the county commissioners, Gimenez outlined comparisons between salaries in the Miami-Dade Police Department and those of other South Florida cities.
The charts shows a range of officers' base plus supplemental pay, which few other departments include, is $48,324 - $81,990, making them among the county's highest paid officers.
The mayor's cuts would lower that range to $41,786 to $70,313, which would put the department salaries in the middle of the range of other jurisdictions.
"Nobody should have gotten the last year of the contract increases," Gimenez said last week. "Basically it's another 4 percent cut."
Gimenez is asking all ten county bargaining units for concessions to meet the budget that began October 1.