Miami Dade County has a new face among the higher ranks of its police department.
Appearing before a standing-room-only crowd in the Miami-Dade County Commission Chambers, Stephanie Daniels received the honor of a promotion to assistant director of Departmental Services, Miami-Dade Police Department. She is the first African-American woman to serve in that role.
Chief Juan J. Perez, MDPD director, entrusted her with the new role. She will be part of his executive staff and charged with the responsibility of management and operations, along with Thomas Hanlon and Alfredo Ramirez III. She was accompanied by many Miami-Dade Police officers who expressed their loyalty, giving her a standing ovation as she gave a her acceptance speech.
Born and raised in Dade, Daniels is close to the community. She knew that she wanted to be a police officer since she was 20. Daniels has three sons, one of which is a lawyer and the others work for the Corrections Department.
“My mindset has always been wanting to help and serve others,” she said to explain her reasons for wanting to be a police officer.
She believes that people make mistakes sometimes, but everyone should have the opportunity to do better.
“Your past doesn’t have to determine your future. Getting in trouble once, doesn’t have to determine your inability to succeed or to be successful. You have to have the mindset and determination to do better and then just do it,” she said.
Her compassion and strength come from her strong values. She holds that service, mentorship, citizenship and faith form the core of her commitment to the community.
“I have stood in awe of the selflessness exhibited by my fellow officers and by other civil servants across the county. Most significantly, I am grateful to those who have given their lives for everyday citizens. This genuine devotion to support and respond to the needs of this community has inspired me in profound and remarkable ways,” she said.
She said that although her faith has been tested many times during her career, it is confirmed each time that she sees someone who is proud of development of the community. She credits her mother for instilling this faith in her.
She has tremendous faith in the department’s new programs which address current issues of violence. She described several initiatives geared to eliminate youth violence and foster constructive dialogue between the community and its police officers.
The Youth Outreach Unit (YOU) program was created to address the urban violence that is affecting juveniles at an alarming rate in unincorporated Miami-Dade County. The program pairs a police officer with a young person and mentors him or her.
“The ultimate aspiration of the YOU program is to build upon a relationship with a youth and their family unit, then expand to include the neighborhood and the larger community,” she said.
Another program is the Youth Dialogue Partnership with Florida International University. It is a forum comprised of Communication Arts Professor Antoine Hardy, MDPD officers and youth where violence and its prevention are discussed.
“I believe the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) is being responsive to the citizens of Miami-Dade County,” Daniels said. “We are listening to what the concerns are and making the necessary adjustments to improve the relationship and interactions between citizens and police.”