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Key Biscayne--Police Chief Loses Housing Allowance--Says.."I quit!"

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  • Key Biscayne--Police Chief Loses Housing Allowance--Says.."I quit!"

    Police chief calls it quits after loss of housing perk
    He got extra $17,650 per year
    BY LISA ENGEL
    [email protected]

    After nearly 11 years on the job, the Village of Key Biscayne's first police chief will be gone by the end of June.

    But Chief Michael Flaherty will not be heading off on a cruise or golfing anytime soon.

    With his ''housing allowance'' axed, the chief has decided to pack his bags, sell his house and find a job somewhere else.

    ''Key Biscayne is a very expensive place to live,'' Flaherty said. ``This extra money gave me the means to be able to live here among the residents, which I feel is important.''

    The 60-year-old Flaherty, who submitted his resignation last week, was one of the highest paid chiefs in Miami-Dade County, making a base salary of more than $133,000 a year.

    Flaherty's contract specified that he had to live in the village and he was given an additional $17,650 a year as a perk to help pay for living expenses.

    The fire chief and former village manager also received $12,000 a year for housing.

    But Village Manager Jackie Menendez, who made the decision to end the allowance as well as multi-year contracts, said the amount was excessive and unnecessary.

    ''I had never heard of the idea of perpetual housing,'' Menendez said. ``The police and fire [chiefs] are very well compensated for their work. I did not ask for the allowance as part of my contact. I believe that the salary afforded to me was fair.''

    Menendez, whose salary is $136,000 a year, pays for her own housing in Key Biscayne.

    Mayor Robert Oldakowski wouldn't discuss any issues surrounding Flaherty's retirement, but said: ``We are all very grateful. He created a department from scratch and is leaving us behind very strong management.''

    Menendez has not made any decisions on a replacement yet, but said she is looking to hire a new chief from within the department.

    In the meantime, Deputy Chief Kathy McElhaney will fill the position. Menendez will recommend the council put Flaherty under contract for an additional year to help with the transition. Menendez said Flaherty ``established an exceptional force and we have him to thank.''

    In his 37 years as a police officer, Flaherty has investigated everything from prostitution to homicide.

    Born in Huntington, W. Va., the only boy among four kids, he moved with his family to Washington, D.C., at age 6.

    Law enforcement piqued his interest while he shot pool and played basketball with officers at the local Police Boys Club.

    ''The officers at the club were always helping people,'' Flaherty said. ``I thought that it was such a neat job.''

    After a stint as a military police officer, Flaherty joined the department in Prince George's County, Maryland, and worked his way up to chief.

    He attributes his success to his belief system.

    ''You cannot over-police and stop everyone that moves,'' Flaherty said. ``Unfortunately, sometimes there are officers who abuse their power and this causes animosity. You have to have an equal balance of respect.''

    Upon retiring from Prince George's County, he saw an ad saying the newly incorporated Village of Key Biscayne was looking for a chief.

    Flaherty helped build the fledgling department, and some officers have been with him since the beginning.

    ''They have treated me very well,'' Flaherty said. ``I have made a lot of friends with the people here, I will miss them.''
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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