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Citizens Crime Watch of Miami Dade

In November 1974, women in Southwest Dade County were terrorized by a rapist in the area. At that time there were no direct lines of communication between the police and the people. A handful of concerned women called a meeting of the neighborhood and invited the police officer assigned to the “Gentle Rapist” case. Their original intent was to form a vigilante group but the officer convinced them there was a better and more effective way: Organize Crime Prevention Groups and work in conjunction with the police department. The meeting was a success and serves as a model for the present-day “Neighborhood Crime Watch” program in Miami-Dade County.

The group formulated a plan for similar meetings throughout the county by organizing citizens into “Neighborhood Crime Watch” groups. The police educated them in home security and personal safety, and informed them what to report and how to report it. A chairperson represented each neighborhood along with block captains. The police remained in touch with the chairperson to report unusual criminal activity in the area so that they can inform the crime watchers in the neighborhood. And the telephone chain as we know it today, the heartbeat of “Neighborhood Crime Watch”, was born.

Since the inception of Citizens' Crime Watch it has continued a close working relationship with local police departments. The joint effort of citizens reporting and police interaction, contributes to the reduction of crime and the arrest of suspects. It has brought hundreds of thousands of people closer together to reduce crime in our community. Citizens' Crime Watch now in its 33 rd year of service to the community, and each year the program grows reaching an average of 80,000 residents a year either thru implementation of Neighborhood Watch programs, revitalizing old groups, presentations to Homeowners Associations or holding safety events in the community with local law enforcement agencies. Crime prevention materials are printed in English, Spanish and Creole.

Rev. Robert Moss Crime Watch Group with Officer Tony Magrino of the Miami-Dade Police Department

Citizens' Crime Watch is a non-profit organization funded by the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners , grants and donations. It serves over 25 municipal police departments and work with various multicultural communities. The staff consist of 4 Hispanics, 1 Afro American and 1 Haitian American at present. All coordinators are certified crime prevention practitioners through the Florida Attorney Generals Office. The Youth Crime Watch of Miami-Dade is funded by the Miami-Dade School Board working in the public schools reaching over 50,000 students a year, teaching them crime prevention techniques in partnerships with the Miami-Dade Schools Police.

Our Neighborhood Watch program has been recognized nationally and implemented in Asuncion , Paraguay requested by the American Embassy and in a section of Santiago , Chile a town called Las Condes requested by the Mayor of that town. We have been invited to train officers in dealing with multi-cultural communities in several cities across the country as well as train police officers from Jamaica , Haiti and Costa Rica . Crime has no boundaries and many of these countries are seeing the need for better relationships with their residents and Neighborhood Watch is the established tool.

Neighborhood Watch is an integral part of Miami-Dade County for law enforcement and for its residents. There are various reasons for being part of this crime fighting/quality of life program therefore I would like to introduce some of our diverse Neighborhood Watch groups that would like to share their experiences, their efforts and what they have accomplished since being organized as stated by their own individual Chairpersons.

Group 1

Northeast 15th Avenue Crime Watch Group

Rev. Robert Moss – Chairperson

Assigned Officer: Officer Anthony Magrino – Miami -Dade Police Department

Date of first meeting - May 23, 2006

Reasons for starting a Crime Watch Group in our neighborhood:

  • February of 2006, there was a shooting one evening on our street.
  • Some of the homes were damage.
  • Young people were selling drugs from a home in the middle of the neighborhood.
  • Some homes were being broken it to while people were at work.
  • Young people were speeding up and down the street in their cars.
  • Homeless people were sitting on the ground at the small Plaza near 15th Avenue and our neighbors were afraid to go their businesses.
  • There were robberies at the Plaza.

People who lived in the neighborhood were afraid to sit on their porch.

We started working toward organizing a Crime Watch Group at the beginning of March of 2006. We had our first official meeting on May 6, 2006.

  • Twelve (12) people attended our first meeting
  • We have fourteen (14) people on our current phone chain list.
  • The average attendance for our Crime Watch Group meeting is ten (10)

As a result of creating the Northeast 15th Avenue Crime Watch group the following has happened:

  • The Northeast 15th Avenue installed two (2) Citizens Crime Watch Signs on its street. It gets the attention of people coming into our neighbor and warns them that they are being watched.
  • The young people who were selling drugs out of house were arrested and no longer live in the neighborhood. The home was sold and the new owners are members of our Crime Watch Group.
  • We have no reports of homes being broken into on Northeast 15th avenue in the last year.
  • Nor have we had any more shooting since February 2006.
  • The Miami-Dade County Police and Team Metro are addressing the homeless problem.
  • The Miami-Dade County Police has brought in a speed trailer to encourage people to slow down.

Our Crime Watch Group has become involved with other community activities. They are as follows:

  • We been involved with three (3) community outreach projects. (we encourage people to learn about county service and use them)
  • We have conducted two (2) Citizens Stand Against Crime events. There were thirty (30) residents at each event.
  • We have had two (2) block parties. The first one we had about sixty (60) people in attendance and the second one we had thirty (30) people.
  • This passed Thanksgiving holiday we collected cans goods for the needy.
  • For Christmas Holiday we collected food and toys for two (2) needy families. The families were please that we took the time to do this for them. We as a Crime Watch Group have adopted one of the needy families.

Rev. Robert Moss 15th Avenue Crime Watch hosting a Neighborhood Watch informational block party bring residents and children together.

Since we started the Northeast 15th Avenue Crime Watch Group our neighborhood has seen a decrease in crime and things have gotten better where we now sit in front of our homes.

Groups 2

The Enclave at Isles at Bayshore Crime Watch Group

Luciane Cederberg - Chairperson

Assigned Officer – Officer Gigi Ortiz – Cutler Bay Police Department

Date of first meeting - February 2006

Reasons for starting a Crime Watch Group in our development:

We were a new development and still under construction. We had daily burglaries in the neighborhood. They were taking refrigerators, microwaves, stoves, etc. from the new houses being built totally unoccupied. There were many break- ins, auto thefts, minor thefts and lots of suspicious people walking around. We didn't know who was going to be next and we were scared. We were also in transition from county police to our own municipal police. So it was difficult in dealing with these issues.

First Neighborhood Watch meeting was held in 2006 – all of the 20 existing houses attended and the phone chain were put in place. After that first meeting, as houses were completed, we asked them to join. We also started getting the support of Lennar Homes the developer in helping to accomplish some of the concerns and issues that the residents had. At present there are over 100 residents involved in our Neighborhood Watch program.

In October of 2006 a Citizens Stand Against Crime event was held in conjunction with Halloween where over 100 residents with their children attended. The event also brought forth the support of our local police officers, our county police officers, elected officials and the Mayor.

Since implementing Neighborhood Watch , our neighborhood is now virtually crime free and we now know what to look for and we still count on Crime Watch to continue to educate and support us in our fight against crime and to make a neighborhood as safe as it can be. We are thankful for the knowledge and for the continuous relationship Citizens' Crime Watch shares with us.

Group 3

Lake Belmar Homeowners Association Crime Watch Group

Mary Fente – Chairperson

Assigned Officer – Officer Tony Magrino – Miami-Dade Police Department

Date of first meeting - May 2004

Reason for starting Crime Watch Group in our association:

Our neighborhood started the Crime Watch in our area because of crimes during the day when our neighbors were at work and late at night when we were sleeping. We had cars broken into, back yards and boats broken into, including burglaries and stolen cars.

Our Associations hosts every year a Block Party, Christmas Crawl, Garage Sale, Cocktails (Happy hour, several times a year) and we have participated in Hurricane Relief efforts.

We just hosted our first Citizens Stand Against Crime march which ended with food and beverages and a turn out of at least 75 people. We have hosted several Crime Watch Meetings which have been very informative to all.

Lake Belmar Crime Watch participating in a Citizen Stand Against Crime Event with Miami-Dade Police department and McGruff the Crime Dog leading the march around the neighborhood.

We have a lot more communication with neighbors and feel the crime in the area has slowed down. We have had a few bad incidents recently, but again, the neighbor communication has been great. It has really helped to have our phone chain in place. Our neighbors call the police when they see a suspicious person or a suspicious car in the neighborhood, or when a house alarm starts to ring we communicate with each other. Our relationship with law enforcement and our elected officials has help bring tranquility to our area, for which we are truly grateful.

Group 4

Upper Eastside – Bayside Crime Watch Group

Loretta Tarpin – Chairperson

Assigned Officers – Officer Darrell Nichols – City of Miami Police Department

Date of first meeting – January 22, 2008

Reason for starting a Crime Watch group:

I live on a small street in Miami 's Upper East Side , a changing mélange of different cultures and diverse life-styles. The entire vicinity is experiencing an increase in commerce, visitor activity and media attention.

Our own wee corner of paradise is home to 17 children (infants to teens); young professional couples; middle-aged singles; people of various races and sexual orientation; retirees; tenants, pets. A few of our older residents have lived here for more than 50 years! We are multi-cultural, multi-lingual and most of us know one another by name. We have celebrated together, watched one another's children grow, fed one another's cats, and helped each other through hurricanes.

Our tiny size lends an intimacy to our interactions, which I think makes us well suited to a program like Crime Watch. We welcome this tool, for despite its many charms, the threat of criminal activity in our neighborhood remains an everyday fact.

Last fall I volunteered to introduce Crime Watch to the 38 households on my street. Since then, Citizens' Crime Watch and our local Police Officers are patiently leading us through the early steps of the program. Officers Nichols and Burden make themselves readily available to us, at meetings and by phone. Commander Magnusson takes time to reply to our questions and send up-dates. Ms. Caldwell has been especially encouraging, with her ever-ready responses, humor, and positive energy.

Although we have just begun, 28 households have already signed on as active members. It is heartening to see the benefits of Crime Watch already taking root.

As I perceive it, working together toward a safer street will naturally give rise to other far-reaching, positive effects. An improved flow communication will deepen our sense of trust and connection to one another, thereby strengthening our community from the inside out.

While working with above groups which come from different parts of Miami-Dade the one factor which binds them all is the need to preserve their quality of life within their surroundings. Neighborhood Watch is that “glue” that brings them together as “one”

As the Executive Director of Citizens Crime Watch of Miami-Dade, I am extremely blessed in having the support of all the different police departments in our County. We truly work with exceptionally caring police officers who are passionate about Neighborhood Watch programs. This is indicative of the superlative support they receive from their Police Chiefs, Majors, and Captains all the way up their chain of command. Not to forget the support of the Mayors and elected officials who also play an important role in making sure these programs are funded in their departments.

As it has been said so many times “Crime is everyone's problem” and “Everyone is responsible to help solve the problem”.

For more information on our programs, please visit our web site: Citizenscrimewatch.com, or call us at 305-470-1670 and we will be happy to assist you in any way we can.