Concerns about a butt-grabbing biker and a potential Florida International University campus expansion played second fiddle to Police Chief Alexander D. Casas “homecoming” the night of Sept. 24.
For a Hammocks District Citizens Advisory Committee audience, the biker and November referendum were overshadowed by what Casas described as “like coming home again” to the people he once served as district commander.
Asked to update his audience on his new role as the head of FIU security, Chief Casas once again spoke before more than 30 residents and officials who he often updated on area police affairs as commander from 2008 to 2011.
It was a doubly special moment for the Casas family as the chief’s wife, Sgt. Grisleem Casas, present with daughters, Sophia and Isabella Ortiz, won an “Officer of the Month” citation for efforts on a district team that completed a $2.1 million seizure from a drug fencing operation.
“Police work is a family business with us,” added Chief Casas who noted that the girls’ natural father is also a working Miami-Dade police officer.
“We’ll soon be rid of the bicycling buttgrabber,” Casas promised, noting that sexual misconduct incidents “are happening in greater frequency on campuses, nationwide, and have become commonplace in South America.”
While emphasizing he could not actively campaign in his position, the security chief pointed to peripheral advantages for an enlarged FIU campus, including improved Tamiami Park facilities and better use of the reserved parking area in the southeast Miami-Dade Expo/Youth Fair grounds.
He also noted that vendors and Youth Fair exhibitors would not be immediately removed since the enabling vote provides three years for the county to relocate the fair in any one of 20 sites suggested, including a possible trade for an FIU wetland area.
Chief Casas’\ current efforts are concentrated on supervising a 64-member force and 18 support personnel to keep the Modesto Maidique and Biscayne Bay campuses secure, including constant vigilance to track complaints of sexual misconduct. Other comments:
While military equipment “is usually overkill” for most police work, the show of military vehicles discourages unruly crowds, adding, “Today it’s different than it was 20 to 30 years ago when crowds threw rocks and bottles; now it’s bullets and bombs.
“On college campuses, the rights of individuals are a constant student concern, making it imperative that we carefully observe the distinctive margins that uphold constitutional rights, wherever investigations take us, including private off-campus dorms.”
A student population of 53,000 actually places an estimated 24,000 students rotating day and night on the premises.
His campus force works hand-In-hand with MDPD district commands and support from Sweetwater and Miami-Dade departments; and North Miami, North Miami Beach and North Central District for Biscayne Bay campus.
For additional details, call 305-348- 1657 or visit http://police.fiu.edu