Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Response to My Post About the Police

In response to my post from yesterday about the lack of community police efforts in North Bay Village, a commenter at LEOAFFAIRS posted the following:

Vericker blog
Postby Get a grip » 11/28/12 20:05:16
Wow,how sad about the blog from Mr. Vericker. He knows he sees the Officers patrol by his house every day,about once an hour at least. Too bad he does not see all of the elderly welfare checks done,the watch orders done, the special area checks done. The Officers are checking the parks, going to all sick and injured calls, handling all issued calls for service, writing reports, writing citations, movers, parkers, city ordnance issues. Basically keeping the crime rate one of the lowest in the County. Oh by the ways about the cars that were bought with non resident funds, well too bad most people do not know there are only several police certified type of models available to agencies to keep the liability down. Mr. Vericker prisoner cages and all the other equipment needed to keep you safe are not made but for the few types of these cars, but too bad you did not ask.
All this and more and yes the Officers do have a great response time on top of all of that. Don't worry though I am sure they will keep protecting you and all the other residents, even the elderly. Ho my gosh almost forgot, the police do know where the elderly live when all of the residents were asked over the last several to register.
PS you want PAL go ask the schools police, maybe they have money.
I'm not a big fan of Leo Affairs as it almost always anonymous and often inflammatory for the sake of being inflammatory.  The poster here though brings up some points that it is only fair to address.   

Starting with the PS:  The PD budget has included money for PAL now for two years running.   This money is entirely under the control of the PD and it was the Chief who decided to end the program.   

As regards the only statement that actually speaks to my point about community policing, "the police do know where the elderly live" my question is how?   With no active outreach programs, no surveys by the city, nowhere on the web site to register and no newsletters, this is a hit or miss proposition.  Community Policing is clear, visible and consistent.   

Which speaks to the larger issue.  "Get A Grip" talks about the number of responses, patrols,  and other functions.  For years, the commission has asked the chief for a useful breakdown of activities and instead gets a pile of numbers each meeting that doesn't tell them anything about what the PD is doing (e.g. responded to xx number of service calls, rendered yy number of assistance to medical issues, apprehended ## number of suspects.)  As recently as two months ago, the police chief did not know the statistics on robberies.   

"Get A Grip" has a point.  The police do a lot and it's not the rank and file that concern me.  Quite the opposite.  A surprising number of the PD members talk to me regularly, and they are deeply frustrated that their efforts go unreported, and several have shared that they are actively discouraged from developing community relations.  It's the management that does not promote and engage with the community.   

I take exception to where "Get A Grip" say the cars were bought with "non-resident" money.  No, it was our money.  That it came from the LETF rather than the general fund does not change whose it is, and that's my point.   We purchased more cars and more expensive cars than were needed.   When you buy one thing, you don't buy another, and the programs that would make this a better place to live have been ignored.  

The two cops laid off could have been funded by LETF money if they were assigned to community policing activities such as PAL, Outreach to the Elderly, Crime Prevention, Gang Watches. Keeping the staff and improving the community are more urgent than many of the choices made and our PD Management have to answer to that. 

Kevin Vericker
Nov 29 , 2012 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Time for the Police to Step Up

How effective is our police department? The chief has often pointed to the rapid response time to calls for service as exceptional and he's probably right. The police do show up quickly when there is a call. It would be interesting to see measurements on how quickly and what type of calls they are responding to, but this quick response seems to be pretty consistent, so that's good.

But Public Safety is more than just response when something illegal or threatening happens. Good public safety also includes prevention and enhancement. In most cities, the role of the police includes active outreach to the community. Community policing means presence on the street, in the playgrounds and parks, and contact with the most vulnerable residents.

We don't have any of that.

Two years ago, the police chief summarily “suspended” the Police Activities League, the town's only program for teens and young adults without consultation with the board, the parents or the community. In spite of repeated requests, all we've heard is a vague “the chief is committed to the PAL” but no action, no action at all.

There is no community crime prevention. The police used to hold regular sessions with the residents to discuss ways that houses could be made more secure, address concerns about perceived or real problems and be in touch with the community by talking informally with residents. The police were usually the first to know about problems, not the last in a chain that finally leads to a crime response call.

There is no outreach to the elderly and the disabled, a critical service in many cities, particularly those cities prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes or flooding. If, really when, we have our next natural disaster, the police wouldn't even know where to look for residents most in need of help, the residents who are least able to call.

The excuse used for much of this are the budget constraints imposed in tight times and that's not unfair. But for years, the Law Enforcement Trust Fund has been used as a piggy bank to fund expensive vehicle purchases, pay for entertainments like the Seven Island Chief's Dinner, and other such expenses. Let's just look at the cars – high performance, forbidding looking vehicles obviously designed for a much more extensive geography which patrol our streets with the police hidden behind darkened windows. They look like something from a science fiction apocalyptic movie instead of a community police force.

The police could have spent less on the cars (I know we needed new ones) and used the money to create a registry of disabled residents to check up on.

Instead of the Seven Island's Chief's Dinner, a nondescript charity, the police could have created community education seminars on crime prevention.

The list goes on. It's not a question of the money, but rather how the PD decides to spend that money and so far, it's been spent on a lot of things that neither improve the life of the community or the environment of the police work force. In fact, from what several cops are telling me, it's a pretty grim place to work now.

Four stars on the quick response time, but that's only one measure among many for the effectiveness of public safety and on every important community measure – crime prevention, outreach, education – there is no effort at all. It's time to get serious about doing it right.

Kevin Vericker November 28, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday November 17

The Farmers Market opened today in the parking lot at the Crab House.  This will be a weekly event from November 30, every Friday 2 to 7There was a nice selection of locally grown, organic produce, some killer baked goods, something called Body Butter which I was not brave enough to buy, and some prepared food.  What really kills is the view of the bay.   
Check it out.  
So, tonight, after the swearing in of the commissioners at 5 PM, I will head back home, prepare an organic dinner of freshly made pasta, with cilantro and local cheeses.  Looks to be a good night.  
Kevin Vericker
November 17, 2012 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

News Around North Bay Village

Swearing in of the new commissioners will be Friday, Nov 17, at 5 PM.  Jorge Gonzalez and Wendy Duvall will be sworn in at 5 PM on Friday, along with the Mayor and Commissioner Richard Chervony.   
The Commission did not hold its regularly scheduled meeting this month.  There seems to have been fear that the sitting commission would not work to get the business done, a poor reason not to meet.  
This needs to be followed by a regular meeting, currently scheduled for December 11.  The city should move that up if possible or add a second meeting for the week of November 26.  
The Boards need to be appointed and get to work and that can't happen until the commission does so.  Much legislation has been postponed.  We should stop playing games and move along.  
Treasure Island Elementary - The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce awarded $30,000 to Miami Beach Elementary Schools for health care.  This money will provide nursing services at Treasure Island  Elementary, something budget cuts have not allowed.  
Coming up next - how will the school bond affect TIE?   There's new money afoot and Treasure Island will get some.  
For more information, I hope you guys are reading Mario Garcia's blog.
Kevin Vericker
November 16, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Morning After The Day Before

The Presidential Election is settled and so is our Senate and House race, not that there was much doubt about the House race.  For the last month, I've been quiet because I have been volunteering for the Obama campaign, and this blog is about North Bay Village. 

The results of this election will matter for North Bay Village though and I think in a good way.  

  • The biggest threat facing us from the Federal level is the fiscal cliff.   That is the  process known as sequestration which is scheduled to go into place on Jan 2, 2013 whereby the federal appropriations are cut 15% across the board.  Congress put this in place to punish the American people for Congress's own failure to address the budget issues. 

    The effects of this on the economy threaten to be massive.  A good deal of the city budget comes from state and federal funding and we have no slack for such a hit. 

    The President has stated that it won't happen and I think there will be little will to do this in Congress.  That threat may be behind us. 

  • There is likely to be more investment in infrastructure.  We won a fair amount of federal money in the last ARRA go around because we were "shovel ready", that is we had the projects planned and ready to go without federal money, making them very attractive to the federal funders. 

    North Bay Village needs to be sure to put the rest of our infrastructure needs - a city hall, a baywalk, transit - together quickly and be first in line if there is a second stimulus. 

  • The School Bond issue passed.  There is talk of what to do with Treasure Island Elementary, whether to improve it as is, turn it to a K-12 or other options.  We need to be on top of this. 

There's a lot more to come - I still haven't seen the results from our charter amendments and several local races are still to be resolved, but overall, we're in a pretty good place in the neighborhood.  
Kevin Vericker
November 7, 2013