MIAMI - A resolution directing the Miami-Dade County mayor to implement a policy that restricts newly hired county police officers from taking their car homes failed to pass the commission on Tuesday.
Commissioner Sally Heyman sponsored the resolution. She told Local 10's Jeff Weinsier that under her proposal, new Miami-Dade police hires who live in Broward County would have no longer received take-home patrol cars.
Heyman said the 445 officers who currently live and drive their patrol cars home to Broward would have been grandfathered in under the resolution.
"Live in Miami-Dade, you get a take-home car," said Heyman. "Live outside of Miami-Dade, the car doesn't go outside our county line."
Under the current policy, officers can take their patrol cars home only if they live in Miami-Dade or Broward Counties. Officers pay $25 a week to take their patrol cars home.
"You go to Broward County and see all the protection in Broward County," said Commission Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa.
"I think it's a good start to practicality and saving the county resources, especially the county dollars," said Commissioner Lynda Bell.
"They're like being penalized as police officers doing their jobs," said Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz. "I know that's not the intent but that's the way it comes across."
"It is a perk, but is also a benefit to the county," said Miami-Dade Assistant Police Chief Angus Butler.
Butler said he feared ending the take-home benefit would put the county at a hiring disadvantage.
"We're just starting to hire again because we went through a tough time when we couldn't," he said. "If this were to go through right now, I think it would retard the whole process of trying to get the best applicants here."
"You go to Homestead, there are a lot of Monroe County police cars there," said Police Benevolent Association Vice President Steadman Stahl. "There's a lot of Broward County cars in the county."
The resolution failed on an 8-4 vote.
After a Local 10 investigation exposed the number of county cars and trucks being taken home, Mayor Carlos Gimenez made the following reductions:
- Animal Services: 26 to 6.
- Aviation Department: 13 to 0.
- Informational Technology: 34 to 0.
- Internal Services: 25 to 8.
- Library Services had all its take-home vehicles eliminated.
- Parks and Recreation: 13 to 7.
- Public Works and Waste Management: 118 to 0.
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.
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