Take-Home Cars A Consideration In Police Budget Talks

$1.4M Per Year Spent On County Vehicles Taken Out Of Miami-Dade

Published On: Oct 31 2011 03:55:49 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 21 2011 07:44:43 AM EDT
MIAMI -

As the police union continues to negotiate with Miami-Dade County over contracts, a pricey issue raised in a Local 10 investigation is on the police director's radar.

Each year, $1.4 million are being spent on gas and maintenance to allow Miami-Dade police officers to drive their patrol cars to their homes outside of Miami-Dade County at a time when the budget needs to be cut.

In some cases, officers drive across the state to Naples or up two counties to Palm Beach.

"We are certainly, I'm telling you, reviewing and refining the process right now," said Miami Dade Police Director James Loftus.

As Local 10 reported, three Miami-Dade police officers live in and drive to Collier County, which is 121 miles one way and 242 miles round-trip, resulting in 1,210 miles per week. That is $10,000 per year for gas for one officer in one vehicle to get to and from work.

Ten officers drive through Broward to Palm Beach County.

"All of these things are being revisited. When I talked about revisiting the policy, that's what I'm doing. It's within my purview," Loftus said.

The police budget needs to be drastically cut as the police union and the county continue to negotiate.

"Believe me. I'm telling you we are banging away on $20,000, $10,000, $5,000 --whatever it takes to narrow this gap," Loftus said.

Loftus originally proposed a $25 per week, across-the-board fuel surcharge for officers who have take-home vehicles, but many, including the mayor, said that those who live outside Miami-Dade County should pay more.

"I'm a guy who would be paying 25, 50 or 75 bucks a pay period, and quite frankly, I'm fine with that. I balance that with (what) would it cost me to buy a car and drive to work and go to all the places I go on a daily basis, and I sa, 'Hey, that's easy to swallow,'" Loftus said.

The Police Benevolent Association and Miami-Dade County continue contract negotiations Nov. 1.