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County commissioner wants surveillance cameras in a Westchester park

Westbrook Park in Westchester.
Westbrook Park in Westchester.
Gaston De Cardenas / El Nuevo Herald

Miami-Dade Commissioner Javier Souto asked on Monday that surveillance cameras be installed and lighting improved at a Westchester park where drugs are consumed and suspicious transactions take place.

Souto said he was alerted by neighbors and he himself had witnessed last week how young men from other neighborhoods come to the Westbrook Park, 1325 SW 103rd Pl., to buy, sell and consume drugs.

“We must have zero tolerance with these activities,” Souto said during a meeting of the county’s Cultural Affairs and Recreation Committee on Monday. “Let these people go to Alaska and do that! We don’t want them here!”

After the meeting, deputy police director Juan Pérez said that once Souto told the department about the neighborhood’s complaints about Westbrook, police patrol was increased in the area.

Pérez said police were called to the park only once recently, for a report of graffiti vandalism in the playground.

Souto said the county should create a special group composed of commissioners, Mayor Carlos Giménez and other officials to seek more funds to install surveillance cameras and better lighting at all 260 parks administered by the county.

Jack Kardys, director of the county’s Parks and Recreation department, said that in June the county implemented a program of surveillance cameras and 43 county parks have had them installed.

“This program of surveillance cameras and lights was implemented with a priority set according to crime information by the police,” Kardys said.

Souto said Westchester’s parks generally are quiet and well maintained, but recently they have become attractive public spaces for people who take advantage of the placid atmosphere to use drugs in broad daylight.

“We need to eradicate this problem immediately,” Souto said. “These people come from other areas to sell drugs, consume marijuana. ... That’s why we have to work with the neighbors, so they can become the eyes and ears of authorities to inform them what goes on in the parks.”

During the meeting, Pérez said police are cooperating with the parks department, and that they share information to ensure security in county parks.

“The coordination we have is solid, and we have a permanent exchange of information,” Pérez said.

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