MIAMI – In a move that will save Miami-Dade taxpayers hundreds and thousands of dollars, several Miami-Dade police officers were told Tuesday that as of Jan. 3, they will have to use their own wheels to get to work.
Seventeen officers who live in Collier, Palm Beach and Monroe counties have now been told they have to park their patrol cars when there shift is over.
"I can tell you there will be sweeping changes that will go into effect Jan. 3. Those cars will be pulled back," said James Loftus, director of the Miami Dade Police Department.
Local 10 first exposed the issue two months ago, showing viewers video of a Miami-Dade police car parked in a driveway across the state in Naples. For years, the officer has been allowed to drive 1,210 miles per week to and from work in his county patrol car. It costs $10,000 in tax money for gas each year just for the commute for this one car.
The video outraged some Miami-Dade commissioners, who were in the process of cutting the budget.
According to records, 10 Miami-Dade officers live in Palm Beach, four live in Monroe and three live in Collier.
According to a memo, as of Jan. 3, police vehicles will be restricted to the jurisdictional boundaries of Miami-Dade and Broward only.
"All vehicle privileges outside these jurisdictional areas are hereby rescinded," said the memo.
"I decided it's not in the best interest of the department. Sometimes we look at these things over a period of time and we try to be fair about it," said Loftus.
The 2,500 Miami-Dade police officers who live in the county and in Broward will get to keep their take-home patrol cars but will now pay a $50 fuel surcharge every two weeks. That is expected to generate close to $3.5 million each year.
The Police Patrol Vehicle Program, which allows officers to take their patrol cars home, was established in 1991 as a way to improve response time, increase visibility and improve efficiency.