Miami commissioners vote unanimously to budget for 100 more police officers

Commission also adds $2 million more for anti-poverty programs

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter

MIAMI - Miami city commissioners have some tough decisions to make about next year's budget as governments everywhere are having to cut corners and find extra savings to balance their budgets.

Miami city commissioners are being asked to come up with more money for more police officers.

"Yes, we have proposed more officers, but we also have to have balance in our budget," said Miami City Manager Daniel Alfonso.

Alfonso is managing a move to budget for 100 more police officers and protect the rainy-day reserves that keep the city more financially secure than it has been in years.

"We're not asking for the false choice of fiscal discipline or public safety," said Fernand Amandi. "We're saying both can be done at the same time in this community."

Amandi -- a Miami resident and crime victim -- led the push to quadruple the number of extra officers proposed in the next budget, which Oct. 1. The city coffers have grown more than 5 percent for the first time in years, fueled by the reboom in building.

With a spate of violent crimes, like the recent murder of a beloved pastor for his gold chain, the push for more police is on for a city far below officer-to-resident ratios of other cities.

"I don't doubt that we don't have the highest crime rate in the U.S.," said Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. "That's good, but it's a paradigm shift I'm trying to change."

"Any new increase of the force will be across the board; more for patrol, some will go to investigations," said Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa.

The commission voted unanimously to budget for the 100 more, plus added $2 million more for anti-poverty programs.

"We can no longer just Band-Aid what's going on in our community," said Miami City Commissioner Keon Hardemon. "We have to treat the true illness."

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