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Police, Firefighters Protest Outside Heat Game

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MIAMI (CBS4) – Thousands of police officers and firefighters said they were underpaid and underappreciated as they protested outside Friday night’s Miami Heat home opener at the American Airlines Arena.

The protesters lined the streets as thousands of Miami Heat fans piled into the American Airlines Arena for their first chance to see the Three Kings take on the Orlando Magic.

Miami Fraternal Order of Police President Armando Aguilar estimated there were around 2,000 protesters in the street based on the amount of shirts that were given out.

The protest centered on salary and pension cuts that were enacted in the latest budget from Miami commissioners.

“We’re going to do more of these events until we get the message to all the public,” Aguilar said. “Our message is what they did is abusive, and we won’t stand for it.

While they protested, the officers vowed there would be no interruption in service.

“We’re doing our job; call 911, we’re going to respond,” said Miami Police Sgt. Orlando Villaverde. “The question about it is what kind of employees do we have right now? We have employees who are demoralized, who are upset, who are stressed out.”

Police officers said they are stressed out and underpaid in a city listed as one of the most dangerous in the country. FOP cites 58 homicides among other crimes as rising. Because of that, police officers say their fight with city officials has just begun.

“I think it’s (their message) already effective,” Aguilar said. “I think it was effective from the get-go.”

CBS4 spoke with Miami commissioner Mark Sarnoff who said trashing Miami on such a grand stage doesn’t do police officers or the city any good. Instead it brings property value down, which means less revenue coming in and further cuts.

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