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The department also received the nationally sought-after recognition of being accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) standards. As the 1990s came to a close, Miami experienced a continuing crime rate decline. In 1997, the crime rate dropped by 5%, and in 1998, the drop was another 11% in major crimes, followed by the same percentage decline in 1999. At the same time, the department received large federal grants to support its efforts, in 1997 receiving $19 million in grants, and in 1998, $45 million in grants (History of the MPD, 2007).
Not all assessments were positive, though. Sugarman (1998) writes that the city is a microcosm of cultural diversity but that it is also "plagued by corruption, racism, poverty and drugs" (para. 1) and that this might show what will soon happen to the ret of America. Travel and Leisure magazine deemed the city "the most unfriendly city in America," while Fodor's International called it the nation's "most unsafe" destination. George magazine called it the "most corrupt city in America." These new attitudes were fueled by political scandals, a history of corruption in high places, rampant crime, and a climate of alienation and violence. By that time, some 300 city or Dade County officials had been indicted. Entire city departments were under scrutiny, such as the Miami-Dade building department, cited by a grand jury for failing to enforce building codes and for taking kickbacks and ignoring serious flaws in a large construction project. A number of problems facing the city were seen as contributing to this rise in corruption, including a stagnant pay scale, the increasing size of the Cuban community, and a growing drug problem.
Miami was the center of attention in 2000 when the Cuban emigre community reacted to the Immigration and Naturalization Service's actions regarding the refugee status of the young Cuban, Elian Gonzalez, and the police department was deployed in response to demonstrations and protests. The first Hispanic chief was appointed. In 2001, the terrorist attacks caused the Miami Police Department to reassess its role and interrelation to other local, state and federal emergency response services. Under Chief Martinez's leadership, the Miami crime rates continued to decline with an 11% decrease in 2001 and a 4% decline in 2002. Another change in leadership came in 2003, and in that same year, the Miami Police Department developed into an agency with over 1400 sworn and civilian personnel and an annual operating budget over $100 million (History of the MPD, 2007)..
Anderson (2005) notes how the Miami Police Department undertook a particular approach to terrorism by staging a show of force around hotels, banks, and other public places officers would surround a bank building, as an example, check the IDs of everyone going in, and hand out leaflets about terror threats. At the time, there was no specific, credible threat in the city, though concerns were raised by the fact that the city had been repeatedly mentioned in intelligence reports as a potential target.
Such actions on the part of the Miami Police Department mirrored those of other police agencies after the 9-11 attacks as municipalities sought to enhance security measures at critical infrastructures such as airports, utility plants, and government buildings, a process of adding security measures to a facility or structure referred to as "target hardening" and designed to make these vital assets more difficult to penetrate, thereby making them less attractive to terrorists. Such moves were redoubled after the attacks in London and Madrid, first showing that Public Safety response and recovery efforts in regard to terrorist attacks are quick, professional coordinated, and efficient, and second that there is a clear need to place more emphasis on prevention methods, techniques, and practices in regard to "soft" or accessible structures and venues such as public transportation, shopping malls, hotels and parks. One approach undertaen in Miami is called Operation Miami Shield so that the City of Miami Police Department focuses its efforts towards making soft targets within the community less vulnerable to terrorist actions: "The same citizen/police partnership which was essential in the dramatic reduction in crime will play a vital role in Homeland Security efforts within the city. In addition, many of the core strategies that proved to be effective in the war on crime will be employed to reduce soft target vulnerability, increase public safety and instill citizen participation" (Operation Miami Shield, 2007)..
Such programs are in keeping with community policing approaches in Miami as well. The department notes that concepts of policing have been changed across the nation and that the philosophy of policing in Miami has also changed. The city's various stakeholders have become more concerned about the delivery and quality of city services, and about their role in defining their particular needs. Greater accountability is demanded at the neighborhood level and has become a way of life for municipal employees and how they deliver the city's services. In Miami, one answer is the creation of the Neighborhood Enhancement Team (NET) program. This program envisions the City of Miami as 13 separate and distinct neighborhoods, each with its own needs requiring a municipal service delivery plan tailored to those needs. NET is now the cornerstone of the efforts of the City of Miami to bring community policing into the neighborhoods of Miami. The program began with meetings with the city manager, police chief, and other city department directors to discuss the potential revision of municipal service delivery, leading to a clearer picture of government and to the emergence of the community-oriented policing concept. This is a two-prong strategy consisting of a massive infusion of police resources into a given neighborhood to eradicate form a time chronic problems involving crime and illegal drug use. Also seen as important is the public's perception of the level of police commitment to distressed areas, and as the department addresses the crime-related problems that had long been neglected, the public views the police department in a different light. Once the situation is stabilized, a permanent team of city employees is placed into each city neighborhood to continue the process and monitor change (NET Concept, 2007).
The NET plan meant a decentralization of municipal services down to the neighborhood level in mini city halls, which in turn fostered a team approach to the identification and resolution of problems. The original staff of each NET Service Center included an NET Administrator, a Service Center Representative, a Neighborhood Resource Officer (NRO), and a Public Service Aide, along with code enforcement inspectors for sanitization, and public works. Also, six of the Service Centers were augmented with job counselors. Representatives from different city departments were assigned to each NET Service Center, but the NRO was considered the key element to the success of the program (NET Concept, 2007).
The NRO for each service area acts as a team leader, with a host of police officers providing patrol, investigation, and specialized enforcement to that service area. The NRO acts as a sounding board for neighborhood concerns and works towards finding solutions to the problems raised by the citizens the NROs also work with the NET team members to address complaints and to identify critical issues contributing to crime or poor perceptions of the neighborhood, and they also work to improve the lines of communication and provide a more personal form of police service. Before this program was strted, all citizen complaints were channeled through the offices of the City of Miami commissioners and the mayor, the city manager's office, the Chief of Police office, the Field Operations Division Chief's office, or the Community Relations Section. Now, the number of persons available and easily accessible to the public has significantly multiplied so that the number of "complaint receivers" increased. The public's expectations for quick and sure results have benefited. In the beginning, the NRO reported to a police major who was the commander of each district and who had authority over police actions within that entire district. Later, the police department assigned a Public Service Aide as an assistant for the delivery of services in their neighborhoods. Individual NROs work with the citizens to identify problems and initiate corrective action from the appropriate city department, not just from the police department. The NROs handle neighborhood requests that in the past would have tied up an inordinate amount of time when dispatched as calls for service (such as drug and prostitution houses, neighborhood nuisances, abandoned cars and vessels, abandoned or dilapidated structures, trash litter, and illegal dumping). Patrol officers now use a proactive approach to reduce the level of crimes against persons and property, placing special emphasis on reducing burglaries and illegal drug sales (NET Concept, 2007).
This is a team approach that has changed the way in which crime and disorder problems are handled. In the next step, there was a realignment of the patrol operations, transitioning from a "sector" configuration into a "neighborhood service area" deployment orientation. Also modified was the methodology…[continue]
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