MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The City of Miami police department is planning on adding nearly three dozen new officers to its ranks next year.
The city’s commission and Mayor Tomas Regalado originally wanted to hire an additional 100 officers but couldn’t for budgetary reasons.
By hiring new officers, the department wants to get the number of officers-to-residents ratio closer to those of other cities the size of Miami.
During a commission meeting Thursday, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said he would like to see more officers hired immediately. Sarnoff said Miami has one of the smallest police forces of any city its size in the country.
“I think the thing this commission should do is set its priority and make sure we keep our citizens safe and we want to attract people here,” said Sarnoff.
Last month a CBS4 news investigation revealed there were more than one thousand shootings across the county. The homicide clearance rate in both the city and the county was 50 percent or less.
“I think as a result of a surge, and I know the chief is not going to call it a surge, but I’m going to call it that, that he is deploying in the North District, I think we should go to 50, I think we should immediately hire 50 certified officers,” Sarnoff told the commission. “He doesn’t agree with that statement, and I understand that.”
Miami Police Chief Manny Orosa said, like with anything, it comes down to money.
“It’s up to the manager and the budget director to analyze the budget and realize how many more cops we can add and I’ll take whatever they can give me. If they give me 33 that’s fine, if they give me 100 that’s even better,” said Orosa.
Sarnoff and other commissioners have expressed concern that while resources have gone into the North end to deal with all the shootings, other parts of the city have been ignored.
Commissioner Michelle Spence Jones said he’s all in favor of hiring more officers.
“You know I have been ranting on this issue for God knows how long. What I’m trying to understand in this discussion is what is the clog in the drain,” Spence Jones told her fellow commissioners.
The City of Miami Police Department has not been fully staffed for the last decade due to budget cuts and retiring officers. The department, which has a budget for 1,144 officers, has not achieved that number in years. The city manager said by June he will have 1,144 officers on the street – the question is will there be any additional officers.
Sarnoff is hoping the city can hire officers who are already trained and possess law enforcement credentials so that they can hit the streets right away. One problem, however, is that before hiring credentialed police officers, the city must get approval from the US Department of Justice which has been monitoring the city’s hiring practices since 1977. On Thursday, the city commission passed a resolution directing the city manager and city attorney to meet with DOJ officials in an attempt to expedite the hiring of the 50 officers Sarnoff is requesting.