As an immigrant, the preamble to the Bill of Rights takes my breath away. Because most other countries operate under a police state. Law enforcement has unquestioned and unchallenged power. But in the United States of America, no one is above the law, including law enforcement. So, it is imperative that we hold law enforcement accountable, especially when they violate a citizen’s civil rights.
But we also must acknowledge that law enforcement must be treated as fairly and equally as we want to be treated. Therefore, finding the happy medium in order to change the law enforcement culture and still effectively fight crime while serving and protecting all residents, while building the public trust.
That is why I used the International Association of Chiefs of Police who developed a Blueprint for best practices designed to promote effective crime reduction while building public trust.
Changing law enforcement culture, the us against them, is essential in creating a police department that works together to ensure all of our safety and security.
As Miami-Dade County Sheriff, the oath I and all of the Deputies will take, is to protect and serve everyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious preference, or social status. We will treat every resident with dignity, respect, and courtesy. And under my watch, any violation of civil rights will not be accepted or tolerated.
In my platform, I have outlined six (6) pillars that I believe are essential to modern-day Policing and that will improve your safety and security. I’ve listed a few examples in each pillar. Although these might be a few examples of the position, please feel free to reach out to me if you want to know my position on a specific issue of interest or concern that I haven’t specifically addressed.
The hiring process is the most important part of what kind of law enforcement department a Sheriff is going to lead. In my humble opinion, law enforcement has not only become too militarized but has developed into a warrior mentality instead of a guardianship mentality. Serving and protecting is essential in building community trust and developing cooperative and collaborative community relationships.
Therefore, the traits I believe are essential in being a guardian are character traits. The character of a deputy who gets into this profession is not for the power but because of that protective spirit for residents of Miami-Dade County.
The current Miami-Dade County Police Officers all have character traits, but sometimes it’s not seen because of culture that has been installed in them for years by the over militarized mentality and the us against them power arrogance. Miami-Dade County Police Department is not at war with the residents of Miami-Dade County. Mitigating crime and keeping community residents safe can still be effectively conducted by being prepared and fully trained, having the character and the knowledge to know when to use specific tactics.
With that being said, we, as a society, have asked our law enforcement to do everything in addition to what they actually were hired to perform. They are asked to be social workers and mental health professionals when they are not properly trained or equipped for those situations.
That is why I will hire twenty-five (25) social workers and twenty-five (25) mental health professions to work directly with all the patrol Deputies after completing training at the police academy. Having social workers and mental health professionals directly with officers will not only assist deputies on calls that may require that expertise but also be an emotional support for victims, especially those who experience violent crimes. This will also avail each Deputy from spending a longer time on each call.
Allowing Deputies do the job they were hired to do, decreasing stress, being cognizant that a law enforcement officer is human and has additional personal issues will attract more applicants that represent our diverse community. Additionally, as a former female Federal Agent, a female law enforcement officer has additional concerns because they tend to be the family caregiver for children or their aging parents, putting additional stress triggers on them. Making sure we address those triggers will provide the Miami-Dade County residents a law enforcement department with that will give 💯 percent to their job of keeping us safe and secure. This will also provide new recruits to desire working for the Miami-Dade County Sheriff’s Department.
Benefits and Officer Safety and Wellness
After taking office, I want to evaluate the contract between the Miami-Dade County and the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and the salary structure. I believe we can make some changes to upgrade the salary structure to be more competitive with the federal salary structure.
Child care at every station and HQ is a necessary benefit for families with unpredictable schedules. I believe it’s imperative to ease that stress factor.
Review Maternity leave and add Paternity leave
A social worker assigned to every station and HQ to confidentially assist deputies with outside issues in order to relieve stress triggers and provide each deputy the ability to give his/her 100% to the job.
South Miami Police Chief Landa initiated a law enforcement mental health discussion group. I want to collaborate with him and expand it into an open law enforcement mental health and group discussion to include assistance to all law enforcement regardless of jurisdiction in Miami-Dade County.
Depending on funding, it might be possible to include law enforcement families if and as needed
Every 7 years every deputy, regardless of rank, will go through a background update with a full physical and mental health evaluation in order to maintain a healthy force. And this allows every Deputy to proactively address any physical issue prior to it getting worse.
TRAINING PROCESS (Continuous)
Yearly legal update training of all US and state cases and laws for that fiscal year.
Communication and interviewing skills training for all Deputies regardless of rank
De-escalation and Use of Force training every time a Deputy is required to qualify with weapons regardless of rank
Obtaining higher education will be encouraged and supported for all personnel working in the Sheriff’s Department.
Leadership training and skills will be required for all Field Training Deputies
Sexual Harassment and sensitivity, implicit bias, and ethical conduct training will be required yearly
Set up a team that will review body cam videos and proactively address issues that develop into a major concern or crisis
All personnel in the Accountability Unit will be hired independently and will NOT be part of the chain of command. They will report directly to me and an outside panel who make sure that the department is running efficiently and transparently without any violation of any rules, regulations, or laws.
Due to the size of our county, a South and North Complaint Intake Office will be opened to provide anyone who wants to file a complaint is able to get to an office.
Every complaint will be heard and receive a number
Every complainant will receive a notification of the status of their complaint every 30 days.
Every complainant will receive notification of the outcome of their complaint in the form of preference.
Investigation Complaint Process
Every criminal finding after a thorough investigation will be heard by an independent panel outside of the Sheriff Office to determine if a criminal referral will be made to either the state attorney’s office or the US civil rights office.
Audit Complaint Process
Audits Unit will provide oversight of the financial reporting process and will audit the departments system of internal controls.
Will conduct evaluations used to determine efficiency, effectiveness, impact, and/or sustainability of operations, procedures, and policies. They can recommend improvements and identify where administrative action is necessary. They will provide an analysis of any systematic issues of program implementation or policies and procedures in a timely manner.
REDUCTION IN CRIME
The nation’s hate crimes have reached an epidemic level. In Miami-Dade County, we have seen the Proud Boys and other white supremacy groups insert themselves in our politics in order to gain power.
Gun violence has become a health crisis in Miami-Dade County and the country. Our children and grandchildren deserve to live in a society where they don’t have to worry about being murdered at school or to be shot on their way to the grocery store.
Our drug supple chain has increased dramatically because of the increased demand.
Mental health and suicides have risen dramatically in recent years.
Florida and Miami-Dade County are in the top five (5) in the nation for Human Trafficking.
Just enacting laws and just enforcing them isn’t going to solve the problem. We must begin to address the root cause of some of these issues by working together to develop resolutions that would actually address the issues.
I will work with all the municipalities, communities, and organizations in order to develop cooperation across the county to address these issues.
I also plan to hire Grant writers so that we can infuse Miami-Dade County with additional funds to work with organizations who are on the ground in our communities trying to make a dent in these issues.
I will establish a Community Advisory Board made up of community leaders and activists, which will meet with me monthly to discuss and develop strategy plans to address public safety, gun violence, and other crimes throughout Miami-Dade County
Making sure there is community engagement and input to address public safety issues in neighborhoods, especially those communities who are experiencing a higher crime rate
Increase the personnel and deputies to the Neighborhood Resources Unit by using multidisciplinary teams and community knowledge.
Increasing youth engagement to prevent the school to prison pipeline
I will also opt-in into the Miami-Dade County Independent Civilian Panel (ICP).