NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Local 10 has discovered more than 37 taxpayer bought, marked and unmarked police cars sitting unused behind a concrete wall inside the City of North Miami Beach Public Works Compound.
In addition, Local 10 has learned those cars have been parked there for seven months as the city determines if a newly-implemented pool car system is more cost effective for the city.
The police union said the cars need to be put back on the street.
"We are not asking the city to go out and buy vehicles. They are already here and marked," said Union President Sgt. Richard Rand.
To cut back on costs, the city took away officers' take home cars and went to a pool car system.
Now, the same 27 or so patrol cars are used during all shifts, running 24/7 for 97 officers.
The union said there have been times when an officer has been waiting at the station for a car to roll in from the prior shift.
"There have been nights where there have not been enough cars," Rand said.
There are also only four unmarked police cars for a 12-person detective unit.
On Monday, a detective had to take a marked pool car to go to court, leaving one less for an uniformed officer, all while the more than 37 police cars sat idle.
North Miami Beach City Manager Lyndon Bonner eliminated take home cars and implemented the pool car system. So why not assign those parked patrol cars to an officer then park it after a shift is over?
"We have a limited amount of parking at city hall complex. This program is still ongoing. We are still learning from it," Bonner said.
Bonner said he's waiting for an analysis on the new program to see how much money is being saved.
"We think it's a couple of hundred thousand dollars annually to go to the pool car," he said.
Local 10 has also found four new Chevy Tahoes, bought in 2011 and never used, sitting behind the police station.
"All I'm asking for is that those cars get put on the road and those cars are prepared to respond to emergency situations," Rand said.
But the city manager said if the savings are substantial, the unused police cars that are parked at the Public Works Compound could be headed for the auction block.
The city and police union have also hit an impasse in negotiating a new contract for officers.
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