Amandi and his neighbors want more cops. To get the point home, the Grove resident rallied neighbors to the first budget hearing with the use of his lengthy list of contacts, blasting emails to homeowners about lurking dangers, and imploring they show up at a town hall meeting a few weeks before, then at the first budget session.
“Despite increased vigilance and a heightened state of alertness, these perpetrators continue to brazenly break into homes and erode the neighborhood’s sense of security and quality of life for Grove residents,” Amandi wrote.
It worked: 246 residents showed up for an initial gathering at City Hall that also attracted Regalado and Orosa. Many attended the first budget hearing a week later.
Amandi now believes the city can hire more officers and increase patrols if Alfonso can find $9 million or more to move around — a tall order.
The problem, though, is the fluidity of the numbers. Amandi wants 100 more cops, which to him means 35 additional hires if the city gets up to its current budgeted total of 1,144 and adds the 25 more officers budgeted for 2014. Sarnoff would like the number to increase to 1,244 or more.
Still, with hundreds of cops scheduled to retire in the next four years, the number of police officers in Miami could actually drop.
“The average homeowner just wants our city leaders to solve the problem,” said Amandi. “There has to be a complete reprioritization of public safety within the city of Miami. This isn’t just a one-year fix.”
The city’s five commissioners are split on the issue: Wifredo “Willy” Gort and Michelle Spence-Jones said during the first hearing that if Miami doesn’t concentrate on taking care of its own officers first, there will be little incentive for others to join the force.
“You’ve got to take care of the officers who are already here,” Spence-Jones said at the first budget hearing.
Sarnoff, on the losing end of the tentative budget vote two weeks ago, wanted more money directed to police hires. He tried, but failed, to get the property tax rate raised to fatten up police department coffers.
The commission chair wants crime down, but says hiring more police has an equally significant role in attracting business. Safer undeveloped areas, Sarnoff said, would attract more residential and commercial development and could convince companies to relocate to Miami.
“It’s the seeds of creating a better tax base for the city,” said Sarnoff.