After 24 years of dealing with riots, shootings, homicides and civil unrest as a cop with the Miami police department, Michael Liotti took on a new challenge and became operations commander for the fledgling Pinecrest police force in October 1997. Fourteen years later, Liotti has decided to retire and move to Lakewood, Colorado with his family.
“It’s time and it is going to be great,” he said. “I’m the most senior guy here now, but not for long. Everything is out in Colorado already; my family, my Harley. All I have here is my truck and my laptop, and soon we will be on the road.”
Clearly moved by his imminent retirement and the immediacy of his departure, an emotional Liotti relived some of the milestone moments from his career while reflecting on his time in Pinecrest.
“This is my last month and it’s just hit me,” he said. “The person most responsible for my success is my wife Marta, years she has been with me 39 years.”
Liotti grew up in Cutler Ridge after leaving his native Buffalo when he was five years old. A graduate of Killian High School, he served in the Marine Corps for three years and was encouraged to become a police officer by a family friend when he was in his 20s.
“It was the dad of one of my friends who was in the business and he said I would make a fine cop,” said Liotti. “I applied in 1973. It was a good decision and it has been an exciting career.”
Although Liotti has met U.S. Presidents and many other famous faces while serving the Village, he says one of his most remarkable challenges was the Iron Man Triathlon. The headache of street closings it caused for residents and business owners in 2010 with nearly 3,000 athletes on area roads was not easy, but the event went off smoothly. However, Liotti is proudest of the role he had in putting together a new police department for Pinecrest.
“To bring together a bunch of guys from other organizations with different cultures and attitudes about how a community should be policed was very challenging,” he said. “It was a rough road, but we got through it. There were times when I asked myself if it was worth it, but it certainly was.”
Although Liotti concedes that it is impossible for any police department to eliminate crime, he believes the strides the Village department made by initially tackling traffic issues head on resulted in a reduction in other crimes such as burglary, auto theft and home break-ins.
“High visibility in traffic enforcement is key,” he said. “If a robber or burglar knows they will get stopped for violating the traffic laws, they will not want to come to Pinecrest, especially at night. We have also established impressive detective work for solving crime, which has won us respect in the law enforcement community. We’ve been successful with stopping DUIs as well, and not one child has been injured as a result of a car accident since we started policing the Village.
“I leave here knowing that I did the best I could. We got all the rough edges worked out, we built a safe community and I am leaving the Village in good hands. Today we are a flagship accredited agency and we have a new team of police officers with the drive and fire that is needed in police work.”