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M-D Commission Rejects Elected Police Director Position

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - A proposal from Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez to make the county's top cop an elected position, rather than appointed by the mayor, has been voted down by fellow commissioners.

Commissioners voted to leave the two-term limit measure on the ballot as it is.

Martinez's proposal would have brought Miami-Dade in line with Florida's 66 other counties, all of which elect their sheriff.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez opposed Martinez's proposal.

"If it's not broke, why fix it," Gimenez told CBS4's Gary Nelson.  "I'd rather have a professional law enforcement director, versus a politician."

The PBA, the police officers' union, supported Martinez. The union is no friend of the mayor, who has presided over pay and benefit cuts for cops.

"I'm looking for someone to come in and look after the interests of the people," said PBA President John Rivera.  "When he or she has to investigate corruption, he can do it freely without the pressures of his boss."

Commissioner Linda Bell said having an elected sheriff would go against the will of voters who installed a strong mayor form of government.

"I don't want to use any back-handed methods to strip the mayor of his authority," Bell said.

Martinez, a former cop, raised the elected sheriff proposal after losing a mayoral bid to Gimenez last week. His commission term expires in November.

Might he want to run for sheriff?

Martinez decined media requests for comment, but Mayor Gimenez served up a little jab for the man he defeated last week.

"Maybe he can be a police chief somewhere else or maybe even apply for Director of the Miami-Dade Police Department," Gimenez said, smiling.

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