In 2012 when I was the chair of the city of Miami commission, we averted a potential safety crisis with the loss of our police through retirement and attrition with a growing vertical population. Our numbers had diminished to 1,090, but we needed to be at force strength of 1,360 officers.
Today we have almost reached 1,350 officers, but in September of this year 95 will retire, and others will simply move on. By increasing police manpower over the past four years, the city of Miami’s violent crime reduced by 8.5%, consistent with the Rand Study “Predictable analysis.”
Back then at each commission meeting, the chief of police was required to provide his status report on hiring and police development, this ended in 2016.
The city of Miami’s clearance rate for all crimes, but especially part I crimes — murder, rape, strong arm robbery — are not good, and below the national average for comparable cities.
We not only need more police on the street, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but we need to be fully staffed and maintain seasoned homicide, rape and robbery investigators, who remain on the job for decades, not just cycled through for one or two years.
There is a short term crisis once again looming, the loss of another 100 police officers. There is a loss of long term vision getting our ranks up to those of other full service police departments, and staffing criminal investigations so that we can go back to clearance rates we can all be proud of 20 years ago.
Commissioners Francis Suarez, Franl Carollo, Willy Gort and Keon Hardemon understood and supported the benefits, both by perception and the reality of a safe city. Recently, Fernan Amandi brought some 200 Grovites to the budget discussions to demonstrate overwhelming citizen support. For those running for office now and making a claim they “spearheaded” the police increase, the best advice is this: Run on what you have actually done.
Back then, the commission approved nearly 200 additional officers during tough financial times, which took courage and leadership.