Reduction of gun violence
A key problem facing our city of Miami has been public safety. Residents need to feel free to drive, ride or jog at any time and take their children to the parks with the certainty that they are safe. Tourism, the main business activity of the city, critically depends on a high degree of public safety.
Gun violence due to drug-selling business, juvenile gangs and common criminal activities is a threat to public peace and good quality of living. Historically, gun violence has been a big problem and Miami has grown enough to include this problem.
The usual approach to confronting gun violence has been increasing the number of police officers on the streets, which we have implemented in Miami, but we believe this approach it is not enough. So, we have put in place a strategy “attacking” the problem from different angles.
The first angle is education. We began going to schools and showing students the consequences of using guns: a mandatory 10 years of prison sentence, the damage to the families of both aggressors and victims, as well as the side effects to passersby who are usually hurt. This is a discouraging side of the strategy. A picture above shows a copy of the pledge we offered to students to join the strategy. At the same time, last January we began to organize a number of forums titled “Talk it Through: Teen Community Engagement” in partnership with the organizations RER Consulting and Police diversity training, and in association with Florida International University’s Communications Department, to address the national conversation about the relationship between law enforcement and community members. By these forums, our youth will be more aware of the law enforcement work to make our city safer.
The second approach is a rapid response from the police to any gun fired in the city. Making gun users aware that law enforcement officers will be right there in a matter of minutes to confront and arrest them is a strong deterrent, too. Two pictures above show the modern and sophisticated technology we have implemented in our city to quickly respond to gun fires. The system is known as ShotSpotter, which is a network of sensors and GPS signals that are placed on strategic rooftops. This device activates when a gunshot is fired. If the noise hits three censors, the device technology can triangulate where the noise is coming from within 30 yards. In less than 30 seconds the police quarter receives the signal. Security cameras are attached next to the ShotSpotters so that when the shots go out, we put the camera on and see exactly what’s going on. We have installed 400 security cameras throughout the metro area.
The third approach is reducing the amount of illegal guns on the streets. To this purpose we have implemented the program consisting of “gun buyback operations,” by which we offer to buy guns of any sort, paying owners with vouchers to buy food stuffs at supermarkets, tickets for basketball games, etc. No questions are asked to the people bringing the guns. We have removed from the streets, through these operations, hundreds of fire arms, including machine guns and assault rifles.
As a result, our police department has been able to report continuous reductions in the number of crimes. Just recently, our city had the lowest number of crimes since 1966. Miami has recently been classified as the 5th safest city in the country for walking around.