Doral welcomes first Venezuelan woman to police force

After getting a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and a master’s degree in political science, a young woman from Caracas on Wednesday became the first Venezuelan woman to serve in the Doral Police Department.

Cristina Escontrela, 27, and 14 other police officers received their badges in a ceremony that featured the promotions of four employees and three high-ranking officers.

“I feel very proud of starting this new stage in my life,” Escontrela said. “My commitment is to work so that Doral continues being one of the safest cities in Miami-Dade.”

Mayor Luigi Boria congratulated Escontrela for joining the Doral police force and said his city was a showcase in which immigrants from various parts of the world can successfully accomplish what they pursue.

“I believe that Cristina demonstrates there are opportunities for talents of all nationalities,” said Boria, who is also Venezuelan. “She’s part of a group of police officers who will help us overcome our shortage of officers.”

Doral’s Police Chief Richard Blom said that adding the group of 15 officers would increase the force to 107 officers, which will strengthen security in the community.

Blom, who took his oath as chief in February 2013, said there have been concrete results over the past year, including the arrest of 17 people charged with burglaries in residential and commercial areas, and particularly those who specialize in stealing from parked cars in business areas.

In a speech, Doral City Manager Joe Carollo urged the new officers to be assimilated into the police force firmly committed to fighting corruption.

“You must maintain your integrity for the rest of your careers,” Carollo said, prompting applause from the audience.

Among those present were the parents of Escontrela, Marisol Dieguez and Luis Miguel Escontrela.

“What my daughter has accomplished makes me very proud,” said Dieguez, who coordinates the Humanitarian Aid Program to Venezuela. “I believe the service Cristina starts now is a way to show her gratitude to the country that opened its doors to us.”

While studying at Florida International University, Escontrela said she was fascinated by security issues, which is why in 2013 she decided to enter Miami Dade College’s police academy.

“I would love to grow in the police force and someday become chief,” Escontrela said. “Hopefully, I could be the first police chief [of Venezuelan origin].”

Two other women also took their oaths as police officers on Wednesday: Katherine Alvarez, of Colombian descent, and Michelle Fiebeck. The 12 men included Ricardo Arenas, Sean Borges, Ralph Cuan, Félix Delgado, Scott Demby, Richard Lorenzo, Edward Portal, Danil Ramírez, Alberto Téllez, Richard Torres, Kevin Valencia and Carlos Valladares.

Among the civilian employees promoted were Melissa Jiménez, Miriam Acevedo, Rosamaría Miglio and Kediner Suri. And among the existing police officers promoted: Leonel Ochoa, from officer to sergeant; Yojans Martínez, from sergeant to lieutenant; and Joe Seiglie, from captain to deputy director.

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