For the fifth consecutive year, the city of Biscayne Park Police Department won first place in the Click it or Ticket Challenge at the Florida Law Enforcement Challenge Awards ceremony held on July 19 in Orlando.
In the category of police departments with between 9 and 16 officers, Biscayne Park also took first place in the DUI challenge, and the Law Enforcement challenge. The goal of the challenge awards, which is sponsored by the Florida Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is to improve traffic safety throughout the state and raise seatbelt usage.
“This all deals with officers who want to save lives,” said Police Chief Ray Atesiano.
During the Click It or Ticket challenge, the department participated in three, two-week sessions held in November 2012, and March and May 2013 of increased enforcement, community outreach, and public education in order to increase public safety and reduce injuries and deaths as a result of car crashes. The DUI and Law Enforcement challenges focused on traffic safety as well.
“These awards look at all categories within traffic safety: accidents, citations issued, warnings issued, we even participated in DUI checkpoints with the Miami and North Miami police departments,” said Atesiano.
Along with the recognition, the department won nearly $60,000 credit toward the purchase of supplies that will directly help increase traffic safety.
Meanwhile, the department has been working to fight burglaries in the village.
“We did a crime analysis and we noticed that burglaries were up in foreclosures and abandoned homes,” said Atesiano. “So, we started directed patrols looking for unmarked commercial vehicles” because according to Miami-Dade county regulations, all commercial vehicles must be clearly marked with appropriate signage.
“What was happening was people would pull up in these white vans under the guise of doing work. No one paid attention because they assumed neighbors were getting work done,” said Cpl. Nick Wollschlager, who has been with the police department for two years. “Now, we’ve created more community awareness, people are cognizant of what to look for.”
Other winning police departments from Miami-Dade County include:
• DUI Challenge: Bay Harbor Island, third place in the 17–24 officer category, and North Miami, first place in the 76-150 officer category;
• Click It or Ticket Challenge: North Miami, first place, and Aventura, second place in the 76-150 officer category;
• Law Enforcement Challenge: North Miami, first place, and Aventura, second place in the 76-150 officer category; Coral Gables, first place in the 151-250 officer category; and Miami, third place in the 500 or more officer category;
• Florida Safety Officer of the Year: Ray DeJesus of the North Miami Police Department.