Sun and clouds mixed. High around 75F. Winds NE at 10 to 15 mph..
Mainly clear. Low 66F. Winds NNE at 10 to 15 mph.
Updated: February 10, 2022 @ 12:26 pm
Hoping to get Key Biscayne back into the Top 5 among the state’s “Safest Cities,” Police Chief Frank Sousa presented a four-pronged outline for the future of his department during Tuesday night’s Council meeting.
He also made several recommendations — including adding two more officers to his 36-member staff — based on observations from his four-and-a-half month tenure, but in his presentation, Sousa made it a point to highlight that his comprehensive plan included more than people.
“Presence is more than people. It is a function of all police resources, technology and capabilities,” read one of Sousa’s slides.
Policing disorder, preventing crime, and improving traffic and maritime safety — all linked to community engagement — were topics of goals suggested by Sousa.
– An evaluation of street and park lighting;
– Improving the Village’s security camera system with a $50,000 budget;
– Hiring two officers to increase police presence and cut down on some daily dual roles (police cars and maritime patrol);
– Increasing police training;
– Adding wide-ranging community policing, which should include engagement with youth, businesses and even faith-based groups.
Council members approved his recommendations 6-1, with Ed London in opposition. London personally came up with a zone-patrol system that would call for just 29 officers, which he shared with Islander News.
Councilman Luis Lauredo applauded the efforts of Sousa and his department, especially after the recent arrests of five young men involved in an armed robbery.
“It shows there’s a new sheriff in town,” Lauredo said, “And that’s a deterrent.”
Among the issues Sousa will prioritize will be youth engagement; sustained traffic and maritime police presence; vehicle, golf cart and scooters traffic enforcement; crime prevention evaluations (like the one done recently for Village Green) by his staff; and working with other departments, such as Fire-Rescue and Parks and Recreation.
Sousa said the call volume has quadrupled since the police department’s early days, going from 6,000 to 24,000 calls a year. Also, 4 million vehicles yearly travel the area.
“I don’t have to tell you how important the (Rickenbacker) Causeway is … MAST Academy doesn’t belong to us, but we have 1,000 kids that go there,” he said.
“Our personnel are stretched thin and the amount of training has increased. Our goal is to be back among the top five ‘Safest Cities’ in Florida. This year, we’re ranked 13th.”
He hopes to deploy the Community Policing Program between July and September when kids are out of school.
Asked by London if his big-city policies (Sousa was formerly with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department), should apply to the smaller island, he replied: “It doesn’t matter if it’s a big city or small city, everybody wants the same things — safety and security.”
First, it should come as no surprise that I don’t agree with Councilmember Ed London’s plan …