Saturday, October 15, 2011

Your tax dollars at work

Three Miami-Dade police officers drive their patrol cars home to Collier County each day.
The cost to taxpayers is $10,000 a year in gas alone for each car.

UPDATE: On July 18, the Eye on Miami blog actually beat Ch. 10 to the punch when it posted county documents that estimate the cost of take home vehicles (THV) to Miami-Dade taxpayers.

Twenty years ago, Dade County commissioners were deciding whether or not to approve a plan that would give take-home patrol cars to 1,159 Metro-Dade police officers.

In an Aug. 12, 1991 story,  Miami Herald reporter Gail Epstein wrote, "The Dade Police Benevolent Association and Commissioner Arthur Teele are pushing the idea, which they say would increase police visibility and reduce crime."

Epstein wrote that the county manager's office estimated "the take-home car program would cost an additional $90 million over the next decade," adding...
County Manager Joaquin Avino thinks that money could be better spent when it comes to fighting crime in unincorporated Dade.

"Nothing that we've been able to compile in a nationwide search indicates a direct relationship between the take-home car program and a reduction in crime," said Aristides Rivera, executive assistant to the manager. "So it boils down to maybe a matter of perception, that the officer being more visible reduces crime."
Looks like Avino was right.

Take-home police cars - which cost taxpayers millions - don't deter crime.

This week we learned that thieves actually seek out marked police cars to break into....while they are parked in front of officers' homes. From NBC Miami:
Miami-Dade Police are looking for a group of brazen car burglars who were caught on video breaking into cop cars [parked in front of the officers' homes] and stealing a gun and ammo.

Eight vehicles, including three marked Miami-Dade Police cruisers and a federal law enforcement vehicle, were burglarized in Cutler Bay between Oct. 3 and Oct. 11, Miami-Dade Police spokesman Roy Rutland said.

The burglaries happened in the area of Southwest 210th Place and 211th Lane, between 90th Place and 92nd Avenue, and were caught on surveillance video Rutland said. The suspects were seen leaving in a white Ford Explorer.

Items taken included a semi-automatic pistol, ammunition, and miscellaneous personal items.
No one would argue with the fact that it's essential for some cops to take their police vehicles home. Members of SWAT are on call 24 hours a day and need to be able to respond to emergency situations rapidly.

But does the same hold true for a cop who drives a take-home car but who has a desk job and works 9 to 5?

And then there's the matter of some cops who live outside of Miami-Dade County.

On Friday's late news on Local 10, investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier reported that three Miami-Dade police officers drive their patrol cars home, across the state, to Naples in Collier County daily.

(Click here watch Weinsier's report.)

"It's 121 miles one way, 242 miles round trip and 1,210 miles a week to get to work. That's $10,000 in gas for just one officer to get to and from work a year," Weinsier reported.

Also from Weinsier's report:
Local 10 has also learned 10 officers drive their Miami-Dade police cars home to Palm Beach County. As of August, a total of 2,650 marked and unmarked Miami-Dade police cars go home with officers.

According to information provided to Local 10 by the department, 2,161 officers live in Miami-Dade, 472 live in Broward County, 10 live in and drive to Palm Beach County, four officers live in Monroe County and three live in and drive across the state to Collier County.

The mayor's office said total take-home costs in gas, insurance and maintenance are close to $7 million a year in tax money. Total take-home costs for the cars that go out of Miami-Dade County are $1.4 million in tax money per year.
The police department isn't the only county entity that's pissing away taxpayers' money.

Additionally, on Local 10's 6pm news, Weinsier reported
A captain assigned to the Training Bureau drives a full-size, four-wheel-drive Miami-Dade Fire Rescue pickup truck to northwestern Palm Beach County, where he lives, after every shift.

According to Google Maps, it's 85 miles one way from the Training Facility at Doral headquarters to his house. That's 170 miles round trip and 680 miles to and from the office for his four-day work week.

It costs Miami-Dade taxpayers $200 a week in gas for that one employee to drive the truck between work and home.
But the part of Weinsier's report that almost caused me to fall out of my chair was this response from Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez: "A lot of this is a legacy thing. People have gotten cars as part of a compensation package or to make the job more attractive."

Memo to Mayor Gimenez: Excuse me? Make the job more attractive?? Seems to me in these tough times, the fact they even have a job should be attractive enough! Please put an end to wasteful practice now!


  1. The take-home car policy is outrageous. Thanks for another great post! You are on a roll!

  2. I just looked at the docs on EyeOnMiami blog that you claim "show exactly how much take home vehicles (THV) cost Miami-Dade taxpayers." In fact, the docs give only general estimated ranges of potential savings. There was nothing EXACT about them.

    Why can't you give credit to Channel 10 when they do a good job?

  3. Just take a look on I75 during rush hour. In the morning not only police cars, but also FD and County vehicles driving into Dade. Same story in the afternoon; heading north to Broward and beyond.

  4. @Anonymous at 5:28pm:

    Are you always this stupid or just on Sunday?

    Why can't I give credit to Channel 10? Geez, I don't know...I believe that was the point of my post Einstein! Read it again.

    And having worked at a TV station I know that NO ONE came up with this idea on their own. Very little of what you see on TV news is generated from inside.

    Drop by a news meeting at any TV station in the country and you see that they all have one thing in common: the local paper is on the conference table. That's where they get most of their ideas at TV stations.

    I also happen to know that the ass't news director at Ch 10 reads local blogs and I'm 100% sure that's where the idea for the take home vehicle story came from.

  5. How about having public servants, especially cops, be required to live in the community they work? Common sense.

  6. Bill

    Caught your post and it was well written.

    I'm in Houston and we don't have take home cars for every cop. Basically LTs and above with certain exceptions (K9, SWAT, etc). But everyone must pay 150 a month for the vehicle to cover their commute cost. And officers must live within 30 miles of police headquarters. Works out alright here.


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