The head of the union representing Miami-Dade police officers said there will be less than the “ideal” number of officers at Hard Rock Stadium for Sunday’s Dolphins-New York Jets game after officers eschewed the detail in reaction to Dolphins’ players national anthem protests.
Dade County Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera said Sunday morning the police presence will be “the minimal amount where they feel safe, but I don’t think they’re going to have the ideal amount.”
Rivera said 400 officers would be best for a Dolphins-Jets game, which he said is one of the two or three that generate the most fights in the Hard Rock Stadium stands and create the most problems. He expects there to be 270 officers at Sunday’s game and the department had to mandate certain officers work to reach that number. Those officers will get overtime pay, which is more than the off-duty rate paid to those who volunteered.
In a statement to NBC6, Miami-Dade police said, “Any shortfall in volunteer officers does not necessarily indicate that the game will result in less safety. We are weighing alternate options with our law enforcement and security partners to accomplish the desired outcome.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Radio host Andy Slater first reported Thursday that many Miami-Dade police officers were considering refusing to work the off-duty detail in reaction to Dolphins players Michael Thomas, Kenny Stills and Julius Thomas continuing to kneel during the national anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality. After the Dolphins enacted a policy that all players on the field must stand for the anthem, the three players remain in the tunnel until the anthem has finished.
Since last season, Stills and Michael Thomas, joined by Julius Thomas this season, have participated in programs with local law enforcement and citizens discussing the issues.
Rivera said as of Thursday, only 170 officers had signed up for the off-duty detail and many officers were worried about being pressured by the department to work the detail. So he sent an e-mail he said that stated, “For those officers who are willing to work or need the money, work. For those who don’t want to work it for whatever reason, don’t work it.’ We weren’t taking one side or the other.”
Rivera said Slater accurately quoted the e-mail as including, “The irony of all this is that they disrespect the very officers that are there to protect them, the team owners and the property they own.”
Rivera said Sunday morning this could be an issue for the remaining home games. He described the officers who didn’t want to work the games as “determined,” and he doubted that the Miami-Dade Police Department would want to incur the financial and morale cost of mandating officers work Dolphins games.
“I’d be willing to sit down with [Dolphins] owners and maybe the players so we can all understand each other,” Rivera said.
Last season, when Michael Thomas and Stills were among the four Dolphins players who followed San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protesting lead, the police union representing Broward sheriff’s deputies requested that membership refuse team escort detail from the airport and hotel to the stadium. BSO deputies still worked the detail.