Miami Police Department wants to hire more officers

Published On: Mar 28 2013 02:29:29 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 29 2013 10:49:20 AM EDT
City of Miami Police Department Badge
MIAMI -

The Miami Police Department wants to hire about 50 more officers this summer.

During a meeting Thursday, commissioners discussed the city's crime rate, including an uptick of shootings in its Liberty City neighborhood.

"Guns are out of control and, you know, this is a state of emergency," said Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones.

"They're no longer there in the manner and means they were before so you are short staffing the city," added Commissioner Marc Sarnoff.

Sarnoff said he's worried moving more officers to troubled areas means there aren't enough elsewhere to keep all residents and visitors safe.

"We've been at this probably chronic understaffing for the better part of 20 years," added Sarnoff.

"The issue is that Miami does not have the capacity to support all visitors and all the events and everything," said Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa. "I know Commissioner Sarnoff would like to have the officers overnight and I don't have a problem with that -- I wish to have them overnight as well. It's just a matter of how the budget is going to be affected."

Orosa said hiring a suggested 100 officers would cost the city about $11 million in salaries, benefits, and equipment.

"Budgeting is all about setting your priorities," said Sarnoff. "If you want to be about safety, then you give the chief back the $4 million he saved."

Orosa and Mayor Tomas Regalado said the U.S. Department of Justice has barred the department from being able to exclusively hire certified officers from other departments, which has slowed down the hiring process.

"We request of them to hire certified-only, a list of certified-only, to speed up the process then we're required to get their blessing and their permission," said Orosa.

Orosa said he plans on contacting the Dept. of Justice. Commissioners want to hear back from the budget director in the next 30 days to discuss what funds can be redirected to the Miami Police Department.