For the first time, Miami-Dade Police have had to layoff more than 100 officers after Mayor Carlos Gimenez and police unions failed to come to an agreement about benefits.
The 118 officers and 17 correctional officers were let go based on seniority and not performance. They will leave the police force in three weeks.
Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus spoke at Miami Dade police headquarters in Doral on Saturday. Addressing concerns that less police could mean less security for Miami-Dade residents, Loftus said:
"Our business is that when people call, we go. We don't make widgets; we can't close the doors. It doesn't work that way. We will always have to go. Some of the units that work this building will be compressed. Some of them will be eliminated."
Loftus reiterated to Chanel 10 that violent crime will always be their top priority: "We'll be doing less of the things we like to do -- things that the community like us to do: crime prevention things, community service things, some property crime things. Because our commitment will be suppressing and solving violent crime. That's always first."
Laid-off officers do have concerns that a smaller police force will have an effect on Miami neighborhoods. Ryan Cowart, one of the officers laid off, told WSV7N, "I don't think there's any question it will be in jeopardy. I'm very, very concern that any loss of police services in that community will have catastrophic effects." Watch the rest of the WSVN7 report below.
NBC Miami reports that when a reporter asked Loftus if response time to burglary calls would be affected by the layoffs, the police director answered, "It could take longer, yes. Because that is a property crime and that is something we may face."
At a January 24 meeting, Gimenez, county commissioners, and the Dade Police Benevolent Association will have one more chance to reach an agreement that may save these officers' jobs. The Miami Herald reports that Gimenez will urge union members to contribute 5 percent of their salary towards their benefits.
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