Control: Health, Public Safety & Intergovernmental Cmte
File Name: MDPD FORENSIC ART UNIT
Agenda Date: 12/16/2010
Agenda Item Number:
DISCUSSION ON THE MIAMI-DADE POLICE FORENSIC ART UNIT (DIRECTOR JAMES K. LOFTUS AND COMMANDER STEPHANIE STOILOFF)
Sally A. Heyman, Prime Sponsor
Health, Public Safety & Intergovernmental Cmte
Assistant County Attorney Gerald Sanchez read the foregoing discussion item into the record.
Chairwoman Heyman informed the Committee members of the proposed resolution under her sponsorship, scheduled to be heard at the December 14, 2010, Budget, Planning and Sustainability Committee (BPSC), which addressed the foregoing issue. She noted that BPSC meeting was canceled due to the lack of a quorum. She also noted that a Police Forensic Artist was still academically and professionally in the Criminal Justice field. She stated that she worked with numerous State and federal agencies. Chairwoman Heyman pointed out that she was informed that the downsizing in the County’s budget greatly affected outside agencies that used the MDPD Forensic Art Unit.
Chairwoman Heyman noted a budget decision was made to cut certain items and a commitment for no layoffs in the public safety personnel in the Police or Fire Departments. Therefore, she stated the integrity of public safety would be maintained as a priority. In addition, she noted the Miami-Dade County Police Department (MDPD) would no longer be able to produce line-ups for outside agencies. Furthermore, she noted the remaining Police Forensic Artists would prioritize their composites. She indicated there were two Police Forensic Artist positions responsible for composite line-ups, reconstructions, photo announcements, age progressions, post mortem and related tasks. She noted that it was a difficult decision to eliminate one of the two Forensic Artist positions.
Chairwoman Heyman stated that she heard from the Dade Chiefs Association, other departments such as Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and during a United States Department of Homeland Security (Homeland Security) meeting held in Atlanta, Georgia, that Miami-Dade County stopped serving other agencies with its Police Forensic Art Unit (Unit). She expressed a concern with approximately $80,000 in budget cuts and that left one person to staff this Unit.
Chairwoman Heyman allowed the following persons to appear before the Committee to speak in connection with this discussion item:
Ms. Elizabeth Boling (phonetic) shared her experience as a home invasion victim held at gunpoint. She noted the use of the Police Forensic Art Unit aided in the capture of the perpetrator in this crime.
Detective Edward Hill, City of North Miami Beach Police Department, Homicide Division, noted the importance and the need for the Police Forensic Unit and the Artist positions.
Major George Martin, City of Miami Police Department, Criminal Investigation Unit, concurred with the sentiments expressed at today’s (12/16) Committee meeting regarding the need for the Police Forensic Artist positions. He noted the City of Miami Police Department, one of the largest municipalities in Miami-Dade County, depended upon MDPD Forensic Art Unit regularly.
Detective Michael Gadeo (phonetic), City of North Miami Police Department, expressed his belief that the Forensic Art Unit was a valuable law enforcement tool for investigating homicides and crimes of all natures. He noted that the lost of this Unit would hamper police departments’ operations.
Chairwoman Heyman informed the Committee members and the public that the MDPD Director was instructed to cut the department’s budget in the amount equal to that of a Police Forensic Artist position.
Chairwoman Heyman asked Assistant County Manager Alina Hudak and the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) Director to provide a report by the next BCC meeting scheduled for January 20, 2011, listing all the other agencies that the MDPD Forensic Art Unit had assisted. She also asked that this report include the billing method required for agencies at the local, state and federal level; the impact to the MDPD Crime Lab on evidence, specifically delays from one person working; and the County’s procedure for collection.
Commissioner Sosa noted she had received letters from different police departments regarding the elimination of the Forensic Art Unit. She expressed concern that the County Mayor could not prepare a resolution and asked for clarification on this matter. She asked the MDPD Director if he was given specific instructions to eliminate a Police Forensic Artist position.
In response to Commissioner Sosa’s question, MDPD Director James Loftus stated he, individually, made the decision to eliminate a Police Forensic Artist position.
Commissioner Diaz asked Assistant County Manager Alina Hudak and representatives from the County Attorney’s Office to identify available resources in the General Fund or other funding sources, for $89,000, to restore the MDPD Forensic Artist position.
It was moved by Commissioner Diaz that Assistant County Manager Alina Hudak and representatives from the County Attorney’s Office identify available resources in the General Fund or other funding sources in the amount for $89,000, to restore the MDPD Forensic Artist position. Commissioner Monestime seconded this motion.
Assistant County Attorney Jess McCarty stated that a request in the form of a motion and restated before the full County Commission.
Following Assistant County Attorney McCarty’s advice, Commissioner Diaz stated he would restate the foregoing motion before the County Commission.
Commissioner Diaz expressed the need to move forward with the proposed resolution sponsored by Chairwoman Heyman on this issue.
Chairwoman Heyman asked that the proposed resolution (Legislative File No. 102851) regarding this discussion item, originally scheduled for the December 14, 2010, Budget, Planning and Sustainability Committee be moved forward to the Board of County Commissioners scheduled for January 20, 2011.
Commissioner Sosa asked that the County Attorney’s office inform any commissioner who brings forth a proposal similar to an existing item/proposal. Therefore, efforts focused on one proposal rather than several sponsored by different commissioners.
Commissioner Barreiro spoke in support of Chairwoman Heyman’s proposed resolution.
Following Chairwoman Heyman’s comments regarding the MDPD Director’s efforts to ensure the department remained whole, MDPD Director Loftus reassured Chairwoman Heyman there was no decrease in effort in the Forensic Art Unit. He indicated that it was one piece of the MDPD’s work removed from the Department’s protocol. Mr. Loftus stated that one area, which took 82% of the Department’s efforts, would now be available to continue to assist in other areas within the Department.
Chairwoman Heyman stated that every effort made would keep public safety a priority.
Health, Public Safety & Intergovernmental Cmte
There is no text currently available online for this item.