Village begins the ‘ZERO’ safety initiative at park

Village begins the ‘ZERO’ safety initiative at park

Public officials, park staff and members of the Safer Compass Foundation unveil a zone sign at Coral Reef Park.

Working with the Safer Compass Foundation the Village of Palmetto Bay has taken the first step for improving public safety by launching a navigational tool called “ZERO” (Zone Emergency Response Operation). Village officials, parks staff and others gathered at Coral Reef Park on May 17 to unveil one of the new signs and explain the system.

ZERO was developed primarily for schools but will work for government buildings, parks and other areas and is designed to enable police, fire rescue and other emergency responders to locate and reach people who need them more quickly.

Besides providing navigational assistance for emergency responders, the system is intended to improve communication between agencies, school administrators and faculty, students and parents. Organizers say it has been field-tested by the Miami-Dade Police

Department/Miami-Dade Schools Police and that it reduces response time by up to 75 percent.

Jeffrey Childers, a police investigator who developed the program with his wife, a teacher, said that ZERO is intended to save lives by reducing the time it takes for police and fire rescue personnel to reach someone. He has been pleased with public response already.

“We’re starting to see people post things on social media about the signs in the park,” Childers said. “They’re complimenting this initiative because they feel a lot safer. They like the fact that they’re taking their kids to a safer park. They’ve seen acts of violence and harmful events across the county and safety is on their minds, so to see that the leadership the council has taken shows they’re on the forefront of pioneering safer parks, school and government facilities. We’ve been receiving positive feedback.”

Village Councilmember Karyn Cunningham, in whose district Coral Reef Park is located, was happy to participate with the launch of the program.

“I’m super excited about this opportunity with the Safer Compass Foundation, bringing project ZERO to Coral Reef Park,” Cunningham said. “It’s an organizational system or navigational tool that the county is already using. I’ve talked to many of our residents and their main concerns are schools, parks and public safety, and for me this is bringing all three of those together under one initiative.

“When you create safer parks and safer schools you have a safer community. Coral Reef Elementary will be coming on board in August, I hope, so that will be huge for them. It’s a free initiative in the sense that Safer Compass raises the funds to place the navigational tools in public spaces.”

Mayor Eugene Flinn, who attended the first part of the ceremony, acknowledged the effort but used the opportunity to express his concern about a different topic.

“I’m waiting to see how this performs,” Flinn said. “Unfortunately, I think we’re polishing a park that’s already safe. We’re not under threat of a terrorist attack. This is for more mundane things like heart attacks or fractures.

“But I’m calling out the council because our parks director is unaware of any serious incidents here at the park and yet we have people dying on the streets on bikes. We have yet to enact the plan I put in place in regards to bicycle lanes. If we want to talk about safety, we need to address that.”

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