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Hialeah police beefing up security for holiday season

Hialeah police announced on Tuesday the beginning of “Blue Blanket,” an operation of public security reinforcement for the holiday season that will be funded by $250,000 confiscated from organized crime.

Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velázquez said the operation seeks to double patrols in commercial and residential areas of the city.

He also said that they would add several squads of undercover officers, mainly in the parking lots of shopping centers.

“The strategy is to encourage vigilance in our community,” Velázquez said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon. “This is a preventive campaign, putting a strong police presence in our streets.”

Hialeah police spokesman Carl Zogby said the extra daily shifts would be coordinated from a high-tech mobile command center and would cover high-traffic commercial areas, such as the Westfield Mall between 49th Street and West 16th Avenue.

“One simple robbery can ruin people’s holidays,” Zogby said. “The extra street patrols can help us avoid such incidents.”

Officers from different police units will be part of the campaign, including members of undercover units, patrol-car units and K-9 dog units.

Modesto Pérez, president of the Hialeah-based Miami-Dade Merchant and Neighbors Association, said he welcomed the program.

“Efforts of this type deserve to be congratulated,” Pérez said. “During the New Year’s season, there is a lot of commercial activity, and shoppers and business owners alike must feel protected by our police.”

Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernández appealed to the community to cooperate with the police effort by avoiding, for example, leaving personal items in sight inside vehicles, which thieves are attracted to.

“We must use our common sense to ensure a happy shopping season,” Hernández said at the press conference, also attended by councilwoman Isis García-Martínez and councilman Paul “Pablito” Hernández. “We want people to do their part.”

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