HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – Fed up with shrinking paychecks and stalled contract talks, Hollywood police officers have asked their union to put together a package on a possible merger with the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
“They have no choice,” Police Benevolent Association president Jeff Marano tells CBS 4 News.
On Monday, 91 Hollywood police officers voted 89 to 2 to look into the possibility.
“They feel there is no future left in Hollywood and that’s the message we’re getting from the city manager,” said Marano.
“The rank and file feel they are not a priority. The city wants to continue to put money into reserves so they can build their reserves to get their bond rating back to borrow more money.”
“Why is Hallandale, Miramar and Pembroke pines signing contracts with their police agencies?”
“They have garnished their wages at 27 and 1/2 percent. And these members are not getting positive signals from the city that it’s ever coming back.
“We have one officer whose take home pay is $810 for two weeks, that’s $405 dollars a week!”
Hollywood isn’t the first city to court merging with BSO.
Since 1999 the cities of Pompano Beach, Oakland Park, Parkland, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, North Lauderdale and West Park have all become part of the sprawling agency.
When asked about a possible merger with BSO Hollywood residents have mixed emotions.
“I like the identity of our own police department, but I don’t like paying for their pensions. Everything’s gotten so expensive it’s hurting the city,” says Joyce De Rosa.
“Whoever can do the best job for the community, that will be the best thing to do for Hollywood.” said local artist Robert Sellers. Sellers pointed out that the police have gone a good job of controlling crime in the downtown area.
But any merger would require the support of city leaders.
“We get to decide. The residents get to decide what’s gonna happen in Hollywood, not the union,” says Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober.
Bober says merger talks are so new, no one has estimated the cost to the city of Hollywood and any potential savings to the bottom line.
“It comes down to how do the Hollywood taxpayers come out ahead and benefit through any type of change. There would be a loss of control of our own hometown police department and that’s what our residents have come to expect,” said Bober.
According to Jeff Marano it will take at least a year for a merger to happen.