More than 450 people attended the 42nd annual Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade awards ceremony held Dec. 15 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Miami Airport and Convention Center.
The event — rescheduled from September in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma — was themed “Building Bridges.”
Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz chaired the event. He and fellow commissioners Javier Souto, Dennis Moss, Audrey Edmonson, Daniella Levine Cava, Sally Heyman, Rebeca Sosa, Esteban “Steve” Bovo, Barbara Jordan and Joe Martinez sponsored tables for crime watchers and police officers in their districts.
A big thank you goes to Amos Rojas Jr. of the U.S. Marshals Office Southern District of Florida for being an outstanding keynote speaker. The Rev. Robert Moss gave the invocation. Miami-Dade Police Sgt. Joe Bermudez handled our silent auction, and musician Barry Gibb donated a signed guitar to auction.
We also want to thank Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez; Capt. Raleigh Flowers, president Miami-Dade County Association of Chiefs of Police; and Miami-Dade Schools Chief Ian Moffett for assisting in the awards presentations. WPLG Channel 10 anchor/reporter Janine Stanwood emceed.
Now for the award winners, who truly deserve the recognition for their commitment to our community:
▪ Citizens’ Involvement Award: Monica Rodriguez
▪ Chairperson of the Year (County): Wayne Russell, Midwest District
▪ Chairperson of the Year (Municipality): Fortuna Smukler of North Miami Beach, Eastern Shore Crime Watch
▪ Crime Watcher of the Year (County): Jeff Kaslofsky, Kendall District
▪ Youth Crime Watch Principal of the Year: Mayte Dovale, Gloria Floyd Elementary
▪ School Resource Officer of the Year: Miami-Dade Schools Officer Heather San Antonio
▪ Police Officer of the Year (County): Miami-Dade Sgt. Patricia Fuerte, Kendall District
▪ Police Officer of the Year (Municipality): North Miami Beach Officer John Philome, North Miami Beach Police Department
I want to thank all of those who helped us in putting this event together: Galloway Nursery, which donated the centerpieces; Bal Harbour Shops; Kathy Butler of Alta-graphics for our beautiful program journal; and James Watson of Arts of South Florida for the beautiful lighting in the room; and Alex Alba from AMA Studios. Our dinner committee: Miami-Dade police officers Sabrina Toledo, Saddiqua Ali, Gina Hogen, Arlene Jimenez, Joseph Bermudez, Jill Sanchez, William Del Oro, Jose Rios, Mercy Rodriguez, Orlando Fleites, Javier Pelayo; Pinecrest Police Officer Michael Gorsline; Mariangelli Fernandez of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office; Ronnie Hufnagel of El Portal; Republican Executive Committeewoman Analeen Martinez; and crime watch staffers Joel Mesa, Nicole Paterson, Rebeca Rivera, Vivian Havlin and Edwin Gonzalez.
In closing, I want to wish everyone a blessed holiday. And please keep in mind our law enforcement officers who work to keep us safe.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.