Monday, January 25, 2010

The Police

There may be no topic more controversial than the North Bay Village PD. And there's probably not a more complicated topic. Rumors fly, accusations are routinely tossed around, budgets are cut, stories are told.

Here's the problem - it's not easy to separate fact from fiction. One Treasure Island resident compared the stories to the plot of "100 Years of Solitude"!

So I'm going to cover some easy facts, then add in some viewpoints. I'm interested in other views and information.

The North Bay Village is typical of the smaller independent towns in Miami-Dade. As the county grew, towns like Surfside, El Portal, North Bay Village, wanted to establish their own identities and to ensure public safety for the new municipalities. This has meant that almost all police resources, including administration, dispatch, detective bureaus, equipment, internal investigations, are locally funded and operated. And I'm willing to say this has been a popular position with the citizenry and is a big reason why North Bay Village remain an attractive, low crime area.

The police department has grown over the years in size and in budget consumption. It makes up almost 75% of our operating expenditures. Cuts are being made as we speak.

The commission directed the police to cut $450,000 from the budget and they have been working hard on that. Progress is slow and painful and we are going to get hit again in September when the property tax values fall again. Negotiations are going on right now with the affected unions and we'll see how that goes.

My viewpoints:

1.) I wrote to each of the commissioners asking that they set up a citizens advisory board to help in this transition. None wrote back or acknowledged the idea. Our mayor did talk to me about it informally but there's been no action.

We need as citizens to be involved in this process. Let's push the commission to get it right.

2.) Everyone has their favorite policing theory it seems. There are people insisting that the status quo be protected at all costs, others who would turn the police over to Metro Dade following the model of Miami Lakes, Doral and other cities who have local patrols but county control, and everything in between.

I don't know the right answer but there are too many sacred cows in the police budget. Let's put it all on the table. Does it make sense to have local dispatchers or can we safely go to 911 alone? We already pay for it. Would CCTV policing reduce the need for patrols? Some say it does, others no. Heck, should we go to Metro?

I don't have the answers and more of us need to be involved, those of us from the reality based community. Reality basers, fire away. I will turn the blog over to any well reasoned poster who wants to put it up.

3.) Speaking of reality, I don't know how many of you were at the Nov 13 meeting (Miami Herald Link Here ) but that was like a bad reality show. Citizens with no idea of what was going on showed up to shriek bizarre accusations about an internal police matter. The president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Armando Aguilar, threatened the city with unlimited resources dedicated to sue the city unless he got to call the shots on our internal affairs.

It was disgusting. It's time to lower the noise and stop posing. There's too much at stake.

4.) In the meantime, over in the blogosphere at LEO Affairs, the North Bay Village Police Forum police and people posing as police are engaging in anonymous insults and childish threats. Time to chill out, kids.

There are going to be a lot of posts about this and I hope a lot of discussion.

I am getting out of town for the rest of the week but will checking daily. And the offer to publish other viewpoints is open.

Kevin Vericker

Up Next: Yeah, Stopping at a red light is more than a good idea, it's the law. Did you really need to be told that?

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