No question the community asks a lot of our police officers mainly to protect citizens and uphold the law. They are not super heroes but we do expect them to be just a little better and be our everyday heroes. So it becomes a little disappointing when our everyday heroes are just not following the law that they are sworn to protect. In this case the traffic laws. Police officers do not have the greatest pay but they do have a great benefit and that is their patrol car. Once upon a moon it was considered a great idea to allow officers to use their patrol car off duty, it would be great to have that presence on the streets in Miami Dade county, maybe the tide has changed.
In Miami Dade county today according to the Mayor Tomas Regalado there are 1,100 officers but only 10% live in the city. Commuting according to a local news investigation aired on local channel ten news, officers are living in Naples, West Palm, and Monroe County etc. using their public vehicles to commute long distances. Seems the old thinking of community presence is out dated. It is fairly easy to get an idea, just drive the South Florida turnpike at pretty much any time and you will see of duty officers from various counties and cities such as: Hollywood, Hallandale, Doral, Miami Springs, Miami Beach, and School Police.
Clearly off duty or not if you are in a public vehicle that says: Police officer, the standard is and should be high. A couple of years ago there was public outrage at police parking. There was a resident taking pictures and video of police officers parking illegally. Parking rules it appeared did not at the time apply to them still does not just pass buy any courthouse in Miami Dade take a quick survey of the not so legal parking then again who would give them a ticket? They are most likely in traffic court and if it was an ordinary citizen the vehicle would be towed.
Over time there have been reports on the flagrant misconduct while driving such as using emergency lights while off duty. Residents have been complaining for years. One resident whom wishes to remain anonymous went to the South Kendall police station in the Hammocks and tried to file a complaint about an officer she was told that was not possible she had to go to the state attorney’s office which she did and they told her there that the complaint needed to be filed at the police department. Very tactical if that is the standard then obviously after spending hours trying to file a report at both offices and drive time very few if any will make an official complaint. Leadership as always sets the tone if it is ok to bend the rules then it eventually after a while it becomes the norm.
Interviewing for this story there where a great deal of examples of officers that were out of their jurisdiction and basically then off duty. Residents are hesitant in using their names as officers are known to retaliate. On the south Florida turnpike the most common complaint was officers on cell phones distracted out and in of lanes, without turn signals, and when traffic got to a stop using the median and their lights to pass traffic. On 152nd Street every morning at 5:50 there is an officer driving 80mph in and out of lanes. Turnpike the Dolphin mall exit one officer makes an illegal turn every morning. The list goes on. The point is the residents of Miami Dade County are aware of the driving habits of off duty officers. Nothing has been done, until one hero trooper as most have been looking the other way : Donna Jane Watts stopped an off duty Miami Dade officer driving in Broward at 120 mph, as it appears between Miami officer and a second job in Broward he is a NASCAR driver on the turnpike.
The response from officers pouring human feces on Trooper vehicles, and one officer pulled over a trooper in an attempt to arrest him for no reason. The actions and reactions clearly shows the lack of regards to the safety of residents driving at 120 mph is clearly dangerous and a public safety issue the officer should have been fired immediately or at least they should have taken his patrol car away. Michael Putney’s commentary this last Sunday on: This Week in South Florida, hit it perfectly by saying: They are the one’s enforcing the law and they are not beyond it. In conclusion maybe it is time to demand that public vehicles only should be used while on duty. Clearly the Miami Dade police officers are abusing their privilege and endangering the public.