WOW!! August is already here and we all know what that means. It's the start of the fuzzy math season. It's the time of the year when city managers across the County, along with our own Dade County Mayor, Carlos “the sky is falling” Gimenez, get on their soap boxes and tell us how bad it still is out there, and how the economy has still not recovered. We will hear things like, “We’re still not out of the woods yet” or “Without Labor concessions the world will end.” Just one year ago the Miami Herald was reporting the following (July 2014 by Herald reporter Doug Hanks): “Despite budget cuts, Miami-Dade expects property tax windfall in 2015,” but the Mayor at the time still blamed the county employees for his mess, and was calling for lay-offs of County police officer's to balance the budget. Even though his own “fuzzy math” numbers, of 2014 predicted an 8% increase to the over all tax rolls, he was still calling for layoffs. But his world was about to change the following month, after that Herald article came out we had an election, and the “Sky is Falling” Mayor saw the light. Within hours of the election results wherein the Mayor lost his pocket Commissioner, our mayor found the money and announced that no layoffs would happen. Fast forward one year - June 2015 - the overall property tax increased to 9.44%, remember in July 2014 the Herald said this:
“Miami-Dade forecast to collect 8 percent more than the $1.25 billion in property taxes that the County is expected to collect in the current year.” Well it looks like the Mayor was wrong again, but it appears he's beginning to listen to us. We here at the PBA have been telling him, and the Commissioners for year's that the County police force was dangerously under staffed. Last month after almost two years the County started its first academy class with 44 new recruits. We will have another starting sometime in September, and another four more classes for next year.
Although we are down 500-600 officers, depending on the Mayor's fuzzy math, I'm not sure how we are going to close this ever widening gap. As the Mayor gets closer to his election next year, we expect him to find more money for public safety, but the damage to the County's police department will be felt for years to come. Especially with next years mass exit of officers leaving due to the drop retirements, and with the unexpected departure of officers who have had enough, and decided to leave early. Leaving the County with a bigger problem to deal with in the future. The City of Miami Police Department found itself with the same problem, that I believe we will find ourselves in if we don't get our butts in gear. Due to heavy attrition of officer's retiring and leaving, the City of Miami police department can not catch up on hiring officers. This is what the Miami Police Chief was quoted as telling his bosses last month, “It’s pretty simple to say get it done, but there’s a process here,” said Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes, who was appointed after the Commission called for more officers.
The situation isn’t surprising, given years of dialogue and suggestions a year ago that elected officials tempered their expectations. Llanes believes there has been so much pressure to increase police presence that actual policing has suffered. Sounds familiar doesn't it. Stay tuned for more on this.
We always seem to hear about the negative reports on police officers, So here is a good story that was sent to me that you will not see on TV or read about in the Miami Herald.
Mr. Jones is a United States Navy veteran who recently came to the FIU Police Department to report that his bicycle was stolen. Sergeant Rick Torres met with Mr. Jones and was disturbed to hear that an insensitive person took his only method of transportation from him. Sergeant Torres was so disturbed that he asked Mr. Jones to return to the police station the next day around the same time. When Mr. Jones returned, Sergeant Torres presented him with a new bicycle so he could commute around the city! The FIU Police Department is proud to recognize Sergeant Torres’s generosity. Mr. Jones, we hope you enjoy your new bike. We here at the PBA would also like to thank Sergeant Torres for making a difference.
Live Like Bella
Last month I had the privilege to hear Raymond Rodriguez-Torres speak about his daughter, Bella. The story he told was extremely moving. For those of you who have not heard of her, visit her website, www.livelikebella.org. If you ever get a chance to hear Bella's father speak don't miss it, but let me give you some advice, bring some tissues - you will need them. I would also like to say thanks to the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers, Fellowship of Christian Firefighters, Fellowship of Christian Nurses and the Blue Line Angels. for the invitation.
Bella Rodriguez-Torres is the oldest daughter of Shannah and Raymond Rodriguez-Torres. Despite having developmental delays from low oxygen at birth, she was a healthy and happy four year old, when in July 2007, she became paralyzed overnight. The cause of the paralysis was a large tumor in her spine with seven other tumors throughout her body. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive childhood cancer. Her prognosis was dire. Medical experts across the globe agreed that Bella had but a few months to live and would never walk again. The author of life however, had a different plan. With intense treatments and prayers from all around the world, she miraculously regained the ability to walk, run, jump and went into remission when it was never thought possible. Bella courageously fought cancer six more times until her death on May 28, 2013. Her big brown eyes, infectious smile, determination and innocence touched thousands across the globe.
Trooper Robert Smith Annual Golf Tournament
When Florida Highway Patrol Trooper and DUI crusader Robert Glenn Smith was killed by a drunk driver on July 26, 1997, his wife, Lisa, and their twin children were devastated. Inspired by organizations like the ones that came to their financial aid following his death, Lisa has founded the Trooper Robert Glenn Smith (TRGS) Foundation to help families who have endured similar tragedies TRGS Foundation puts on an annual golf tournament every year. It is a day of fun and coming together to support our mission of assisting families that have lost a love one to a drunk driver. All monies raised will go towards education in schools about the effects of drinking and driving, grants for students, financial assistant to families.
It is a day of fun, friendships and remembering Robbie for the sacrifice he made to keep our road safe! It is a day for the whole family. Even if you don't golf, like myself, come on out - it’s a great event. Go to www.trgsfoundation.com for more information.
See you next month stay safe.