Cutler Bay resident Nancy Valdes hosted a Crime Watch meeting on Monday, Dec. 8, that drew more than 30 other residents and a number of the town’s public officials as well.
Attending the gathering on the front lawn of Valdes’ home from 7 to 9 p.m. were newly installed Mayor Peggy Bell, Vice Mayor Ernie Sochin, Officer Debbie Fleitas from the Neighborhood Resource Unit (NRU) of the Cutler Bay Policing Unit and Alina Lopez, a Crime Watch Prevention Practitioner. “It was a great turnout,” Valdes said after the meeting. “There was such a positive feeling. Cutler Bay needed that.
It works. Crime watch does work. It’s important to know your neighbors and to be aware of what’s going on in your area.”
Both Bell and Sochin spoke briefly to the group, as did Lopez, and they listened to residents’ comments about crime. One of the concerns expressed involved people coming to their door saying they are from the water company or other utilities as a means of gaining entrance to their homes. They were advised to make a police report whenever they see someone suspicious.
“When residents are aware of their surroundings and look out for their neighbors, crime goes down,” Mayor Bell said later. “Vice Mayor Sochin and I were very happy to attend Ms. Valdes’ event at her home. She provided a forum for our town police NRU and Crime Watch to inform those in attendance of the most effective ways to stay safe, especially during the holidays.
“It is so important for residents to call the police whenever they see something or someone suspicious and Crime Watch helps residents organize their block to be watchful for dangerous activity,” Bell said. “Though Cutler Bay crime is low, we can always do better. I hope all will be vigilant and stay safe during this holiday season.”
Valdes, the Crime Watch team leader for her area, has been a social studies teacher in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for 16 years and said she believes that the learning community extends beyond any school building. She appreciated the participation of the officials and the help of others who were involved.
“Aurora Lopez and Nelson Rivera assisted tremendously in gathering the families together for our meeting,” Valdes said. “Along the process I was able to get neighborhood merchants such as Walgreens, Publix and Party City involved by donating items to the Crime Watch meeting.”
On the previous three weekends Valdes visited her neighbors to encourage them to participate in the Crime Watch program and attend the meeting. She has explained to her students the importance of good citizenship and shared information with them about her involvement in her Neighborhood Crime Watch activities. She hopes that other residents will get involved in the Crime Watch program.
“My job is to keep students safe but also think about other children and families within our home community,” Valdes said. “I believe that communities need to work together and help police reduce crime by being the eyes and ears.”
For information on Cutler Bay’s NRU contact Sgt. Darren Handy at 786-573- 5559 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Neighborhood Crime Watch program visit online at www.citizenscrimewatch.com/.