Miami-Dade Police Department will become a sheriff’s office, but big questions remain

(WSVN) - Florida voters spoke, but it’s South Florida residents who will foot the bill. The Miami-Dade Police Department is becoming a sheriff’s office with an elected leader. But at what cost? 7’s Brian Entin investigates.

The Miami-Dade Police Department is the largest law-enforcement agency in Florida.

But the officers, the cars and the buildings will look different in the future.

Brian Entin: “How big of a deal is this for the agency?”

Police Director Juan Perez, Miami-Dade Police Department: “Well, it’s going to be a significant impact on us, on how we operate.”

Because Florida voters approved Amendment 10 in November, Miami-Dade Police must become the Miami-Dade Sheriff’s Office with an elected sheriff.

Right now, the Miami-Dade mayor appoints a police director.

But, it’s not just the name that has to be changed.

Police Director Juan Perez: “There are a lot of different things that are going to be considered. What uniforms we’re going to wear. What patches we’re going to wear. From our cars — they’re green and white now, so it’s not too bad, but the logo, obviously, is going to have to change.”

Miami-Dade Police has almost 2,900 officers.

They wear brown uniforms, while sheriff’s deputies wear green.

MDPD has almost 2,000 marked emergency vehicles that will eventually need sheriff logos.

The department’s Doral headquarters and eight district substations will also have to be rebranded.

Police union President Steadman Stahl says the cost for the changes has not been calculated but could be in the millions.

President Steadman Stahl, Miami-Dade County’s Police Benevolent Association: “When you change a pair of pants, for example, if we have 3,000 police officers, and you’ll need to supply at least three pairs of trousers to the officers, so, that’s 9,000 pairs of pants. That’s a lot of money to change pants, shirts, the badges…”

Brian Entin: “Amendment 10 gives Miami-Dade until 2024 to officially elect a sheriff, but it’s unclear whether the changeover could happen before then, and that’s making some officers uneasy.”

Police Director Juan Perez: “We’re in a situation that’s a lot of unknowns. There’s a lot of questions. There are concerns outside of what we are going to look like, as far as our uniforms and our cars, that really have our folks worried.”

Police Director Juan Perez says officers are concerned about health insurance and other benefits.

Those benefits are now handled by the county, but once the department becomes a sheriff’s office, it becomes its own entity separate from the county.

Decisions about benefits and rebranding likely won’t happen until a new sheriff is in place, and who that new sheriff will be is up to voters.

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