MIAMI (CBSMiami) – City of Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa welcomed 25 new recruits to the Miami Police Department Tuesday morning. The recruits started their first day at the police academy at a time when the department is having a difficult time recruiting officers.
“I am feeling very excited,” said recruit Sonia Fernandez. “I’m looking forward to the first day of the rest of my life.”
While the recruits are excited about their first day of an intense six-month training program, it doesn’t come without controversy.
“I understand there have been a lot of cuts but I think that we’re coming back and as the city comes back, we’re sharing the wealth with the police department and all of the departments,” said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado.
The Miami Fraternal Order of Police has harshly criticized the city because it claims the city has no plans to raise the number of police officers in the city. The FOP has said the department will actually lose approximately 200 officers in the next 36 months due to retirement and transiting to better police departments.
It’s something Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa doesn’t want to see happen.
“It doesn’t help us if these people graduate and then decide to leave to higher paying job. So I know that with speaking with the mayor and city manager they’re working on a formula to try to achieve both things, increase the number of officers at the same time return some benefits,” explained Chief Orosa.
The FOP doesn’t believe enough is being done.
Four weeks ago, they uploaded a video to the FOP’s YouTube channel titled, “Don’t Apply To The Miami Police Department that tells potential officers to apply elsewhere. In it, several Miami Police officers are shown as a voice over dialogue says, “Are you looking to advance you career? Do not apply to be a police officer in the City of Miami. There are no educational incentives, no promotional incentives, and no raises. Work for a department that values their public safety employees. Know the facts before you apply”.
FOP President Sgt. Javier Ortiz believes some of these new recruits won’t be working for the City of Miami for very long.
“As a matter of fact, some of the people that were just recently hired today when I was walking out came up to me and told me they saw the commercials and they’ve also applied to neighboring departments, so what’s going to happen is that these recruits are going to get paid by the City of Miami, they’re going to go through the training and once they’re certified, they’re going to go to departments that actually value them,” said Ortiz.
The final budget hearing for the City of Miami takes place Thursday. Mayor Regalado said the City is in talks with the FOP and they’re coming up with new ideas on how to recruit more officers, how to hire new officers, and how to restore their benefits.