Delma Noel-Pratt, the first female police chief in Miami Gardens’ brief 14-year history, told an overflowing audience on Monday that she’ll use a three-pronged approach to gain the community’s trust and battle crime: enhanced visibility, community policing and metrics.
But to make all that work, Noel-Pratt said, first comes a little nurturing.
“As leaders, you have to be just like fathers,” she said. “You have to cultivate the land. You have to prepare the land. You have to take up the soil and sprinkle a little fertilizer.”
Moments earlier, Noel-Pratt, was sworn in as the city’s fourth police chief, inheriting a staff of more than 450 sworn and civil employees charged with protecting 112,000 people in one of Miami-Dade’s largest municipalities.
It’s a city at the northern end of Miami-Dade County that has had its share of shootings and violent crimes. Pratt replaces interim Police Chief Cynthia Mechanic, a 30-year veteran who has led the department since Antonio Brooklen suddenly resigned last September.
Pratt, named to the post a month ago by City Manager Cameron Benson, is a 24-year police veteran who began her career as a public service aide in the Miami Police Department.
She received an associates degree at Miami-Dade College, a bachelor’s degree at Barry University and a master’s at Lynn University.
Noel-Pratt joined Miami-Dade police in 1993 and worked her way to a senior staff position as division chief of the Northside District under Director Juan Perez. She also served in the public corruption unit, as a captain, a sergeant, and as a major in the Kendall District.
Monday, she addressed an audience of several hundred in the chamber at City Hall. In attendance were police chiefs from several jurisdictions and elected leaders including U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens.
“This is a very historical moment,” Pratt said. “And I’m honored to be part of it.”