MIAMI (CBSMiami) – You don’t need to watch the evening news or read the morning paper to know violent crime is a serious issue in Miami. While crime overall is down slightly, shootings and murder are not. The city’s top cop said as much at a news conference Thursday.
“There is a slight uptick in our violent crime rate that is directly related to our aggravated assault shootings,” said Police Chief Rodolpho Llanes.
So at the news conference Miami’s leaders were vowing to make crime a priority in the coming budget.
“If we don’t have public safety, what’s going to happen to our city,” said Commission Chairman Willy Gort.
And what is the city proposing to beef up the war on crime? More cops.
“We believe that 40 is the number that the budget can afford,” said Mayor Tomas Regalado.
That would add 40 officers to an apartment with some 300 current vacancies.
“You might be able to fool the public so long, but the public isn’t stupid,” said Fraternal Order of Police President, Javier Ortiz.
The union says the city has failed to hear the people, fed up with crime. After a public uprising in 2013, the city budgeted millions to hire hundreds of new officers but it’s been one step forward, two steps back.
“The department says it has hired 100 police officers this year alone, and that sounds great,” Ortiz said. “But it’s just the art of the wording. The net gain in officers is only 30.”
Officers have been quitting to go to other departments or retiring faster than they can be replaced. Fifty five are scheduled to retire by the end of next year, alone.
The provided CBS4 News with a tape of a dispatch officer recently complaining to a supervisor that calls for service were backed up for lack of officers to respond to them.
The administration vows it will get the department up to speed.
“The budget priorities are public safety,” said Mayor Regalado.
The commission holds its first public hearing on the proposed budget next week. If history repeats itself, many citizens will be in attendance, demanding that crime be made a crisis issue.