Letter to the Editor: Coral Gables must hire officers

Coral Gables Must Hire Officers

MAY 30, 2016, 4:00 PM

Re the May 20 article City’s critics demand urgency to fill vacant police force positions: The article regarding sworn officer shortages within the Coral Gables Police Department expressed many of the concerns that residents have with the slow and seemingly inadequate process being utilized to recruit and hire the police officers.

The Gables Good Government Committee (GGG), a nonpartisan organization that focuses on quality-of-life issues in Coral Gables, sent a letter to its city manager on April 29 stating: “We urge you to take whatever action is necessary to fill these vacancies as soon as possible so that our city’s residents are provided the superior quality of public safety for which our community has historically been known.”

The negative impact of short-staffing raises red flags: (1) Patrol officers have been asked to work extremely long overtime days, causing fatigue; (2) The department exceeded its yearly overtime budget in May and now must draw overtime pay from new-hire funds; (3) The need to maintain minimum patrol staffing means that motor units, detectives, youth services and marine patrol are understaffed; and (4) Part-time officers may need to be hired for traffic enforcement.

These red flags could be lowered with a one-time, extraordinary effort by the city to recruit, hire and train new police officers.

The police budget has 193 positions, of which 21 officer positions are currently unfilled. Additionally, there are nine open positions due to military service, disability and light duty, as well as seven retiring officers. This means that there will be 37 possible vacant positions, nearly 20 percent of the force, by year’s end. The GGG strongly urges the city administration to listen to its concerned citizens and fill the officer vacancies now.

Deborah Swain,

Gables Good
Government Committee,
Coral Gables

Originally published at The Miami Herald, Copyright Miami Herald Media Company