The union also has attacked the administration for a lack of training for newer patrol officers.
For example, in 2009, the city employed eight Drug Recognition Experts officers who are trained to identify drivers under the influence of narcotics . Today, there are three full-time DRE officers, plus two reserve officers who work sporadically, usually called in just for checkpoints.
But the fewer DUI arrests in Miami Beach mostly come from a change in police philosophy.
The Sector Plan
Instituted in late 2011, the community sector plan divided the city into eight zones. The idea: forge a closer relationship with neighborhoods by placing more officers on the street, getting them out of their cars and patrolling specific areas hard hit by crimes.
The sector plan has come under fire from Miami Beachs police union. Bello says the plan gives officers less flexibility to target drunken drivers.
Before, a lot of officers in between calls could work running radar down south, doing traffic enforcement in the peak hours when the clubs are letting out, when youd see a lot of accidents and major incidents, he said.
Miami Beach brass admits that officers who made DUI arrests their niche have in some cases been redirected. And rightfully so, said Miami Beach Deputy Chief Mark Overton.
Thats not a good use of police resources, to have a guy sitting on an establishment that sells alcohol and waiting for people to come out. I dont know if that was happening before, but thats not what were focusing on, Overton said.
We dont want our guys sandbagging bars.