MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The graduation speech some South Florida police cadets heard Thursday was not a typical one.
“I’m not coming to you as Deputy Director, I’m coming to you as a citizen today,” Deputy Director Juan Perez said during the speech.
Perez took off his badge and addressed the graduating class of Miami-Dade Police Cadets with an impromptu speech filled with passion and politics.
“This same tenacity is what we need out there, outside of these walls, telling the community the commissioners, the mayor whoever is listening that we need them,” Perez said, referring to the new officers.
The goal of the speech was to make sure the new officers joining the police force won’t lose their jobs. The Miami-Dade County Mayor said officers will be laid off when the new budget takes effect unless the Union makes concessions.
“They made it through 36 weeks, let us not get laid off,” said Perez during the speech. “Fight for them as they’re willing to fight for you.”
Friday, he explained more about what he had to say to reporters including CBS4’s Maggie Newland. “That was ‘off the cuff’. That was me sitting there and I had to say something,” said Perez.
Deputy Director Perez said he spoke up to urge the community to support the police department in the budget battle.
“I wanted to motivate them not only for this process this year, but for the future when they see the department’s facing difficulties,” Perez added.
“In this position we deal with surprises all the time,” said Miami-Dade’s Police Director J.D. Patterson.
Although the Police Director didn’t expect the fiery speech, he wasn’t surprised by Perez’s passion
“He put emotion and feeling and exuberance into what he wanted to say,” said Patterson.
The mayor released this statement: “If our ongoing negotiations continue, certain concessions from the PBA are successful and we achieve a 15 percent reduction in healthcare costs for the County, we can avoid layoffs in the Miami-Dade Police Department. I’m committed to the safety of our community and will continue to work with all parties in an effort to avoid this worst case scenario.”
The Union says it’s been making concessions for several years.
“He keeps wanting blood from us. Our members have given up almost 25% of their salaries 3-years ago,” said PBA President John Rivera.
“Whatever is necessary to save jobs, as many jobs as possible, should happen,” said Patterson.
The City of Miami encouraged the Miami-Dade cadets to apply with the city. In a letter sent to the President of the Miami-Dade County Police Benevolent Association, city leaders said the department will accept applications September 2 and 3, 2014. The letter said the city plans to hire no fewer than 300 officers over the next three years.