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NAACP joins Mayor Gimenez in fight with police union over cameras

@doug_hanks

Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Thursday the NAACP endorsed his high-profile push to mandate body cameras for the county's police officers. 

"Let us not wait until another incident, like the one in Ferguson, occurs to act," said Adora Obi Nweze, president of the Miami-Dade branch of the civil-rights group. "This initiative would help to protect our community members and police officers alike."

Gimenez's $1 million camera plan was in the proposed budget weeks before the Aug. 9 shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. But he has made it a centerpiece of his agenda after the shooting, saying the surveillance cameras could help calm passions after a similar incident since the circumstances would  be easier to discern. 

Miami-Dade's police union filed a grievance over the proposal, and emerged as the main critic of the Gimenez initiative. Union leaders cite the potential distraction from having to activate the cameras.

The opposition is part of a larger fight with Gimenez over his budget, which initially  called for hundreds of cuts to police jobs. He's also pushing the police union to start negotiations over a new contract and his proposed changes to employees' health-care plans.

The bitterness of the stand-off was apparent in the union's latest newsletter. The September issue of the Dade Police Benevolent Association's Heat newsletter featured a photo of Gimenez on the cover with a dunce cap on his head. Inside, a note from union president John Rivera likened the mayor to a sexually transmitted  disease.

"We are not giving in to his tyrannical behavior," Rivera wrote to members. "Gimenez is like herpes -- the 'gift' that keeps giving."

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