Miami wrestling with port police overtime
Officials from the Port of Miami are seeking revision in the port's federal security plan filed with the U.S. Coast Guard in an effort to reign in overtime pay for Miami-Dade Police Department officers that totaled $8 million in 2005.
A report in the Miami Herald said the MDPD billed the port $10.4 million for police services in 2005, of which $8 million went for overtime pay for police officers that receive significantly more than private security guards that could perform many of the same duties.
The report said that when County Manger George Burgess first saw the number a couple of months ago, his first thought was, 'My god, what the hell is all of this,'
When the matter was investigated, the initial explanation was that the port's security plan was interpreted as mandating the use of MDPD officers. After an initial effort to change to private security officers for some things like inspections of incoming delivery trucks for cruise lines, port officials were told the Coast Guard would close the port if it did not adhere to the federal security plan.
On further investigation, however, port officials learned there are no restrictions on amending the security plan. They have since submitted an amended plan that is now under consideration by the Coast Guard.
Some veteran officers were working up more than 40 overtime hours a week because there are a limited number of officers available for the port security detail. In addition, most deliveries occur during 'off' hours, meaning all of those inspections, which require the use of a back-up officer, were billed at the overtime rate.
County officials were also concerned, the report noted, because many of the officers assigned to the port are near retirement. Their pensions are based on the officers' highest annual earnings'which topped $150,000 with overtime'meaning their lifetime annual pension payments would more than double.