New programs target growing crime issues

Combating neighborhood crimes in Kendall is getting a helping hand from Miami- Dade County State Attorney Katharine Fernandez Rundle’s office. A newly developed database program will identify individuals now appearing as firsttime offenders at overnight bail bond hearings and often routinely released, lacking a detailed record of previous arrests, according to Melia B. Arnett, an assistant state attorney for a newly formed Community Prosecution Unit. Arnett appeared May 26 before the Miami- Dade Police Kendall District’s Citizens Advisory Committee and is scheduled to provide program details to the Hammocks District CAC at its June 30 meeting.

The ID program was announced in May along with START (Stop Think Ask React Tell), a cooperative effort with Miami-Dade Schools to educate children from a prosecutorial viewpoint about alternatives to violence and crime. Both districts’ CAC members have reported increasing juvenile activities in recent months that include petty thefts, graffiti painting, and after hours mischief, as well as crimes ranging from teenage trespassing and pot smoking to homeless individuals and vagrants, some suspected in a rash of recent home burglaries in East Kendall.

Monica Gordo, a 10-year assistant state attorney now seeking a circuit court judge position in Group 62, said both programs should lead to reducing recurring complaints of vagrants, drunk and disorderly offenders, and teenage miscreants, as well as helping juveniles better understand the consequences of criminal actions.

“Too many arrested on vagrancy or nuisance charges keep showing up in the same place, in the same neighborhoods, after an overnight bail bond hearing,” Arnett told Kendall District CAC members. That was a primary topic for several homeowner association members detailing specific problems in Kendall District neighborhoods, including Deerwood as well as Kendall Breeze and Continental Park communities.

Six members of the Deerwood Village Homeowner Association accompanied a security guard at the Kendall CAC session to seek police help in eliminating a growing problem of older teenagers congregating after hours, smoking pot, and refusing to obey the guard’s order to leave the community park after nighttime closing hours. Police answering resident complaints often are unable to get to a disturbance before those involved have fled the scene, Maj. Michael Herrera noted.

As an initiative to help enforce the existing county curfew, Maj. Herrera has assigned several officers to enforce the ordinance during the week as part of a “Summer Crime Prevention” initiative, according to Det. Rebeca Perez, a Media Relations Bureau spokesperson.

“The letters ‘START’ stand for steps a child can utilize to ensure good choices are made in a crisis situation,” Det. Perez noted. During classroom presentations, speakers will explain the decision-making process involved with differing aspects of juvenile delinquency and related issues such as school violence, weapons at school, drugs, sexting, and consequences for those acts, she said.

The educational program was introduced May 24-25 at Brownsville Middle School, 4899 NW 24 Ave., directed by the Juvenile Speaker’s Bureau of the State Attorney’s Office. Perez said the program is available for any youth group, organization, charity or school.

For details or to schedule a presentation, contact assistant state attorneys Todd Bass at 305-636-7500

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