Police cutbacks mean citizens pay twice for protection

Before the days of government budget cutbacks, paying your taxes helped you get a good night’s sleep.

police carNot anymore. If you want police protection in Florida, you’re going to have to pay extra for it, apparently.

That’s because widespread budget trimming has left some areas of the state underserved.

Huffington Post wrote in 2012 that the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, one of Florida’s largest law enforcement agencies, laid off nearly 50 police officers and eliminated 23 vacant officer positions, in response to an $18 million budget cut by the Jacksonville City Council. Smaller cities, from Daytona Beach to Port St. Lucie, also have trimmed police payrolls in response to budget woes.

So did Miami and Hollywood. This year, Miami-Dade County plans to lay off 315 people.

For some, the public budget crisis is good news.

During the past few years, Evelyn Santander, scheduling coordinator at Advanced National Security and Investigations, has seen a steady growth of people signing up to take the 40-hour private security guard training course.

Growth in the sector, she said, is being driven by banks, jewelry stores, homeowners and condo communities, all looking to beef up security.

“In the past, commercial areas and businesses such as banks relied only on security cameras or on a security guard. They needed no extra personnel (for protection),” Santander said.

And becoming a trained security guard isn’t that difficult.

“People see high demand for security guard jobs and in order to get the state license, they just need to pass a 40-hour training course to become security officers,” she said.

With another 28-hour course, the guards can be certified to carry a weapon.

“Condominiums and companies are hiring more private security because it’s cheaper than hiring a police officer from the county sheriff office,” Santander said.

Read more from Watchdog.org.

By Marianela Toledo

 

Watchdog

Watchdog.org is a collection of independent journalists covering state-specific and local government activity.

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