Miami Police Will Get Three Percent Bonus This Year Despite Excessive Force Problems
At least, that's what city commissioners seemed to suggest last night when they gave preliminary approval to a $524 million budget that would give Miami cops a one-time bonus equal to three percent of their salary.
The windfall -- which amounts to $6.8 million or roughly half of the city's 2013 surplus -- comes shortly after the Department of Justice slammed Miami Police for a "pattern... of excessive force" that killed seven black men in eight months. Most of the men were unarmed.
It's been barely two months since the DOJ issued a long awaited investigation into Miami's much-maligned police department. The Feds slammed the cops for violating the Fourth Amendment rights of shooting victims:
Between 2008 and 2011, officers intentionally shot at individuals on 33 separate occasions, three of which MPD itself found unjustified. The department found that a number of MPD practices, including deficient tactics, improper actions by specialized units, as well as egregious delays and substantive deficiencies in deadly force investigations, contributed to the pattern or practice of excessive force.
And yet all the talk at last night's city commission meeting was about whether this year's surplus money should be spent on restoring recently cut benefits for cops, giving them bonuses, or hiring more officers.
"We have a crimewave in the city of Miami," Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said, according to the Miami Herald. Statistics from police chief Manuel Orosa, meanwhile, showed that overall crime was actually down one percent in the Grove.
Sarnoff was the only commissioner to vote against the police bonus, not because he opposed it but because he wanted the money to go towards restoring cop benefits instead.
"This is a promise made, and a promise kept," said Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones as she voted in favor of the bonuses. "They have our backs every single day, and now we have to have their backs."
Still undecided is how many new cops the city will hire. Outside grant money will cover 25 more officers -- bringing the force to the city's desired 1,144 -- but some in the audience demanded 100, echoing Sarnoff's safety concerns.
Cops wore bright yellow t-shirts to the meeting that read: ""You Can't Hire 100 New MPD Cops If You Can't Take Care Of The Ones Already Here."