The North Miami Beach police department launched their holiday task force Tuesday, a unit that will be dedicated to cracking down on crime during the holiday season.
Up until Jan. 3, eight to ten uniformed and undercover officers will be patrolling the business districts and residential neighborhoods every day in an effort to specifically reduce and deter crime such as vehicle and residential burglaries, robberies, auto thefts, business robberies, and purse snatches.
“We are here to make a statement to the residents of North Miami Beach and to the community that we are here to fight crime,” Captain Richard Rand said.
The task force officers will be using unmarked police cars, bicycles, segways, golf carts and the department’s mobile Command Post as the center of all operations, which will change posts daily.
“People love this thing; it’s so important,” Rand said about the mobile command post — a modern trailer able to function as a scaled-down dispatch center, conference room, or “chill spot” for officers.
“We can be everywhere super fast. Residents love it. Officers have a place to go and don’t have to go to the station. It changes the whole attitude,” Rand added, noting the command post can fit 15 to 20 officers, facilitating the task-forces function on the go.
The task force will have street crime detectives, traffic enforcement officers, crime prevention officers, along with citizen volunteers and Police Explorers (a student volunteer program that gives future police officers hands-on experience).
John Philome, the crime prevention supervisor at the police department, said the Police Explorers will be educating the public and adding police presence.
“The Explorers are going to be deployed in the parking lots, looking out for suspicious persons and calling them out to our police department,” Philome said. “They will also be passing out fliers to let the shoppers know not to leave their valuables inside their vehicles.”
Non-task force officers have also been coached on the expected increase in crime in the residential areas and will be looking out for residential burglaries.
“The high visibility component of our efforts will help deter crime, while the surveillance component can effectively nab anyone in the act of committing crimes,” Rand said. “Our goal is to send a message to the criminal element that they should stay out of North Miami Beach if they are even thinking about committing crimes.”
Tips from Captain Richard Rand
▪ Purchase expensive items last, such as electronics or very large items. Buy them on your last stop, so that you can immediately return home with those items.
▪ Do not leave valuables in your cars. If you must secure items in your trunk, do so. (Remember that many car trunks can be opened by pulling a lever inside your car).
▪ Lock your car.
▪ Pay attention to your surroundings. You may be being watched and targeted at the shopping center parking lots or ATMs and followed home and robbed.
▪ If you feel you are being followed, drive to your nearest police station or crowded shopping center while you are calling the police and never exit your car unless you know it is safe to do so.
▪ Carry a limited number of credit cards and cash on you during your shopping.
▪ If you are ordering items online, have neighbors pick it up for you.
▪ Report any suspicious activity to your local police.