The horrific tragedy in Parkland is the worst kind of reminder that communities need to be vigilant, especially with regard to protection of our children.
Here are some steps we are taking as a city to provide an umbrella of protection and reassurance today and in the days ahead:
Miami Beach police officers were out in force this morning providing a highly visible presence outside our schools, particularly around arrival and dismissal times when children and parents are present outside in high numbers. This is in support of the enhanced coverage being provided by the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department.
Our Miami Beach police officers will also be making regular and highly visible visits to all our schools throughout the day. Our officers want to provide the assurance of safety that our school children and their parents need at this difficult time.
In addition to these enhanced patrols, our police department has six school liaison officers working full time in all of the Miami-Dade Elementary Schools and at Nautilus Middle School. These employees are retired police officers who work directly with the Miami Beach Police Department and their respective schools’ administration to address issues of safety on a daily basis.
We have officers who patrol all areas of our City, with a dedicated cadre of assigned to each area. They know their communities and neighborhoods well. A Patrol Captain for each of these areas coordinates police activities that include high-visibility patrols and community engagement. Among their many skills, all our officers are well trained in how best to promptly respond to any critical incident in our schools, including the threat of a possible gunman.
Because of the special concerns teens and their parents share after Parkland, Miami Beach Senior High School is receiving extensive police coverage, including the monitoring of bus arrivals and campus entry points. Our Police Chief was personally on scene this morning and met with Principal Rodriguez about security.
The police department’s senior command staff has also been out today visiting other school principals in the city to make sure their concerns are being addressed.
The most important contribution you can provide is your personal awareness and vigilance. As a community, we need to know right away when something is wrong. If you see something, say something. Call 911. The police department recently initiated a “See Something, Say Something” campaign that stresses this vital message that everyone must speak up immediately to alert law enforcement when something seems out of place or suspicious.
I would like our City to do more. So much more needs to be done. I would like to outright ban the possession and sale of the assault rifle that was used in the Parkland murders. I would like to create gun free zones in our City. Regrettably under current law these and other measures cannot happen because in 2011 the Florida Legislature passed, and our Governor signed, a bill that fully “preempted” the ability of local government to regulate in any manner firearm usage and sale. Courts will not enforce such measures and public officials that even try to implement them are subject to fines and penalties including removal from office.
I know you share my anger and frustration. The notion that our own government would not do all it can to stop this senseless violence is beyond maddening. Despite the preemption, we are studying what can be done, and we are committed to doing all that we can. I will also be meeting with Miami Dade School officials to make sure all our efforts are coordinated and effective.
If you have any ideas or recommendations, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Chief Oates and our Manager, Jimmy Morales, and I along with my colleagues on the Commission are fully committed to making our City safe and secure for our residents.
Let’s keep the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers, but also honor them with action.