HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – A large, bold billboard, paid for by retired officers, says Hollywood is number one in Broward–number one for homicide, that is. A banner plane was also used to get the message out.

“We told the commission that if you cut pay and cut benefits senior officers are going to leave and then crime is going to go up,” said PBA Police Union President Jeff Marano.

Marano alleges crime soared after the city cut police pay and pension benefits back in 2011. He said that despite a raise and new contract last year, Hollywood is at the bottom of the barrel for police pay.

“The senior people continue to leave and the younger people that are coming in, we’re unable to retain them,” said Marano.

“I just think it’s another stunt,” said Hollywood Vice Mayor Patty Asseff. “Another tactic to scare people.”

Asseff counters, saying Hollywood has more officers on the street now than it’s had in several years and that pay is competitive.

“We are now at 300 officers,” she said. “We have a waiting list of officers who want to come into our community.”

As for crime –murders rates are up – but the city says overall crime is down.

“We do not have a problem with random violent crime, random homicides in the city of Hollywood,” said city spokeswoman Raelin Storey. “Hollywood is a very safe city.”

Some who live in Hollywood think the police should get more money.

“I feel sorry for some of the policemen,” said Hollywood Resident Bobbi Marr. “I believe they deserve more than they get.”

Others believe this is targeted against the new police chief. “I think our chief is trying to clean things up from before and I think he’s doing a good job at it,” said Janet Backs.

That billboard is located at 50th Avenue and Pembroke Road in Hollywood. The retired police officers paid for it until the end of the month.

Ted Scouten

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