Miami Beach Police Union President: Banning Cops From Nightclub Work a "PR Stunt"
Around 4:30 a.m. Monday police were called about an extremely drunk man outside Mango's Tropical Cafe, the famous jungle-themed Ocean Drive club. The drunk turned out to be Sergeant Mike Muley, a uniformed Miami Beach police officer who was working off-duty security. The embarrassing arrest sparked the first real reform from new MBPD Chief Dan Oates, who promptly banned officers from off-duty nightclub work.
But don't expect the change to go over easily. The head of MBPD's union tells Riptide they plan to fight. "This is an overreaction and a PR stunt," Sgt. Alex Bello says.
Bello says the off-duty, uniformed police officers' presence outside the clubs -- a form of off-duty work he estimates has been allowed for at least 25 to 30 years -- is instrumental in deterring incidents. Once the officers are removed next month, he predicts residents will notice more late-night issues, and that on-duty city cops will end up overextended from more calls to nightlife hotspots.
"No doubt," Bello said, "if you have 14 less officers on a Friday, Saturday night, you're going to see it and you're going to feel it."
Of course, there's another reason the union adamantly opposes the change: Officers can make serious cash with the off-duty jobs.
In 2010 a Miami New Times investigation found that more than half of Miami Beach's non-executive officers had earned six figures in the previous year, often from lucrative overtime and off-duty assignments. The Miami Herald reported this week that clubs like Mango's, Mansion, and Story pay the officers $45 an hour, $10 of which goes to the city.
But Bello said he estimates there are only 30 or so Miami Beach officers, out of a force of nearly 300 patrol officers, who typically work the off-duty nightclub shifts, and that the assignments weren't all that lucrative for the officers. Oates' decision to stop the assignments, he said, amounted to grandstanding.