Loftus Discusses Next Steps After Dade County Pink Slips Issued

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The director of the Miami-Dade Police Department spoke Saturday afternoon discussing the next steps the department will take after hundreds of Miami-Dade county employees received pink slips.

Director James Loftus said he has a heavy heart, but he has a job to do.

He and his command staff had to tell 118 of the most junior members of his department that they will be laid off and 41 other employees will be demoted, according to CBS4’s Natalia Zea. That is six percent of his street officers.

In addition, 150 corrections positions will be eliminated along with 282 government supervisor positions.

If the mayor, commission and union cannot work out a deal, all those officers will be let go in 20 days.

Despite the political turmoil around the situation, Loftus said his priority is keeping the public safe.

He plans to re-structure the department by shifting priorities away from non-violent crimes like burglary and fraud, to make sure there are enough cops patrolling the streets. He’s also going to cut back community programs like DARE.

“We will do less of that in order to serve our basic commitment,” said Loftus, “Our basic commitment is to prevent and solve violent crime.

But he also told Zea that property crimes are on the rise. There were 8000 home burglaries in Miami-Dade County in 2011. That’s 900 more than in 2010.

Hearing that burglary investigations will now be a lower priority worried West Miami-Dade resident Jose Pineda. His neighbor’s home was burglarized just before Christmas and no one has been caught.

“Obviously they have been watching the neighborhood and that makes us nervous. It could happen to us, it could happen to anyone around,” he said.

Loftus said he has no choice but to scale back, “There will be an investigation but it’s possible it will take longer.”

Loftus said the layoffs are a big hit to the department but they will find a way to get through it for “the betterment of the people we serve.”

Loftus issued a statement Friday afternoon addressing the layoffs.

“In a Department with a history of dark and difficult days, this one is unique. Never before have so many of our finest left us under these circumstances,” the statement read. “As always, we will find a way to persevere because of our responsibility as the Thin Blue Line.  I give you my word that I will shift resources to ensure officer safety while honoring our commitment to the Department’s core function.”

Loftus also offered his sympathy to those who were affected by the cuts.

“To everyone impacted by this layoff, my heart goes out to you. My family and I will keep you in our prayers. To everyone in the Department, please continue to fight to keep your focus. Your safety, the safety of your coworkers, and the well-being of our community demands your vigilance and commitment.”

Police said it was a somber day in the department.

“You have senior officers that are crying. You have junior officers that are crying and it’s hard to fight back the tears when you’re watching someone sit there cry next to you that you know that person would give their life for you” said Detective Larry Hendricks who learned Friday he’ll lose his job in three weeks.

Officer Sylvia Nadel also received a layoff notice. She said she’s dreamed of becoming a police officer her whole life.

“A lot of people come here with the American dream to become rich. Well my American dream was to become a police officer. I never imagined that once I accomplished that four years later I was going to be told I don’t have a job anymore,” said Nadel.

It’s not the first time she feared her career would end. In 2010, she said, a suspect broke her wrist during an arrest. Now this mother of two said she doesn’t know how she will support her growing family.

“The first thing that came to my mind is ‘Hold on I’m pregnant. I can’t do this. It’s affecting my child’,” she explained.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez told officers there would be layoffs after commission voted not to require officers to pay an additional five percent of their paychecks for health insurance. Officers already made numerous concessions including giving up holiday pay and uniform allowances.

“I would rather not do this,” said Gimenez. “This was caused by the commission‘s inaction in not imposing this five percent health care contribution which totals $18 million and I have to do my duty.”

But officers said South Floridians will all pay the price for the layoffs.

“Your protection, your safety could be in danger as you travel the streets because you put less cops on the street, you’re going to have more crime,” said Detective Hendricks who works with the gang unit. He added, “We’re the ones that are suppressing the crime, we’re the ones who are trying to block it from getting out to the streets.”

The mayor vetoed the commission’s decision not to impose a contribution increase. The commission will revisit the issue January 24th, but the Mayor’s office maintains that the department must agree to the five percent increase, or find the money elsewhere within the department.

More from Natalia Zea
  • ConcernedCitizen

    the comment that the public will pay for this sounds like they are threatening not to perform their duties, I say bring in the national guard and let them police the city, the police are so corrupt it would be the best. let marshall law stand, shoot ask questions later. REVOLUTION!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Beverly Frederick

      You obviously only “heard” one sentence out of his entire speech. He REPEATEDLY said that his department would get through this and keep their commitment to the public to protect them from violent crime. The public will pay for this in that the department, with fewer officers, will no longer be able to spend their resources on crime prevention, like DARE programs, or on the investigation of non-violent crimes like burglaries. Maybe you have never been the victim of a burglary, but I have, and he is absolutely right. We will be the ones to pay in the long run!

    • copsaredumb

      cops are the dumbest people in the world.

  • Eddy C

    The LIE that keeps being told by the Mayor is that officers are being asked to pay 5% more on their health insurance. THAT IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE!!!! The Mayor is asking to take an ADDITIONAL 5% of the individual’s base salary, on top of the 5% they have already been forced to pay. If it were merely a 5% increase in the “premium” that officers pay towards health insurance, you wouldn’t have heard a peep from those potentially affected.

    Even if the officer paid $1,000 a month in health insurance premiums, a 5% increase would be only $50.00!!! Hardly a deal breaker or reason to displace hundreds of police families. That is why this issue is being fought tooth and nail…we aren’t talking a few hundred dollars…we are talking thousands that have already been taken from every single MDPD employee. Strong arming the police department members by using large chunks of their generally modest salaries to balance the ENTIRE county’s checkbook is malicious and irresponsible. The financial burden should be carried by ALL county employees (including firefighters), in the interest of being fair, just and equitable.

  • Eddy C

    And BTW…the Mayor is not lying…he simply isn’t correcting the razor sharp members of the media that don’t take the time to “investigate” and uncover the actual facts of the matter.

  • PJ

    eddy c u r right…what the mayor also don’t reveal to the media is the newly hired firefighters and newly promoted firefighters…remember the firefighters do not have to contribute the 5% and soon to be 10% because they have their own insurance but what about the military guys that have insurance with the u.s. government or the seasonal workers who still must contribute and are not eligible for health insurance….but then again the public never hold politicians accountable…just watch the moneynthat the mayor and commissioners hand out once all the dust clears….also keep an eye on the miami herald property and the ties to this mayor…this is going to get interesting

  • edward

    I am very sorry to hear about all the cops that are about
    to be laid-off, but in retrospect, the citizens wanted lower
    property and now that my property tax dropped by $400, it is
    just enough to buy a gun and a box of ammo !


    Check out the Robert Smith comments on this topic at the Miami herald site

  • KoppyKop

    Cops that were fired should he been let go sooner. They will not be able to get jobs anywhere else. However, most likely they can go into the teaching field just as in law enforcement if you have a pulse you are hired.

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