MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hundreds of Miami-Dade county employees received pink slips Friday. The police department lost 131 positions; 150 corrections positions will be eliminated along with 282 government supervisor positions.
Police say 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 says 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 says a suspect broke her wrist during an arrest. Now this mother of two 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 the Mayor, “this was caused by the commission ‘s inaction in not imposing this five percent health care contribution which totals 18 million dollars and i have to do my duty.”
Miami Police Department Director James 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.”
Officers say we 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 commissions’ decision not to impose a pay increase. Commission will revisit the issue January 24th, but it’s not clear what impact that will have on the impending layoffs.