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Miami police: Operation Resilience targets violent crime

Violent criminals are not the only threat to neighborhoods, Miami police say. Prostitutes, drug users, and even motorists who disobey the rules of the road can jeopardize the safety of residents.

That’s why Miami police cast a broad net with Operation Resilience, a citywide crackdown that launched in December 2011 and concluded in November with more than 1,000 arrests made for crimes ranging from suspected murder and drug trafficking to prostitution and robbery.

Maj. David Magnusson, commander of tactical operations for Miami police, said the broad sweep targeted violent crime in the city.

“Homicides are lower at the same point now than they were last year,’’ he said, “and [the numbers of] people shot are lower than they were at the same time last year.’’

Tapping officers from several divisions within Miami’s police department — including gang units, narcotics investigators, robbery detectives and traffic cops — Operation Resilience flooded the city’s streets with police during crackdowns, Magnusson said.

Police conducted 12 separate sweeps over the year with each operation taking place over two, nonconsecutive days, he said.

During those sweeps, police made 380 felony arrests, including 83 for drug possession, 93 for drug trafficking, 156 for drug purchasing, 10 for gun possession, and 19 for battery.

While the operation’s primary mission was to reduce drug-related violent crime, officers also targeted “quality of life’’ crimes such as public intoxication, indecent exposure, gambling, prostitution and traffic infractions.

Magnusson said residents frequently complained of drivers speeding or running stop signs in their neighborhoods, and vagrants pushing carts on public streets in the middle of the night.

“We have found, and there is scientific proof, if you let these things go on unchecked, it just gives that atmosphere that anything goes,’’ Magnusson said, “and after a while anything does go.’’

Police reported making 259 “quality of life’’ arrests and 110 traffic arrests during the course of the operation. They also issued 4,832 traffic citations.

While traffic infractions are not considered serious crimes, Magnusson said they act as a deterrent in crime-ridden neighborhoods.

“People aren’t going to be up to their tricks when cars are being stopped by police,’’ he said.

Magnusson said Miami police are aware of the criticism that such sweeps provide only a respite from crime, and that the criminals return once the operations are completed. He estimated that each sweep was followed by a period of seven to 10 days of relative quiet in the affected neighborhoods.

“We have to find new ways to deal with these issues,’’ he said, “but at the end of the day it’s putting the officers out there.’’

Now that Operation Resilience is complete, Magnusson said, Miami police will launch Operation Throw In the Towel, which will target drug traffickers who work out of homes and businesses.

Police plan to use forfeiture, liens and fines to pressure those drug dealers or their landlords to “throw in the towel,’’ Magnusson said.

“We’re going after the sellers,’’ he said, “and after the structures they sell from.’’