CITY OF MIAMI BEACH,
The Police Community Relations Team
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The Police Community Relations Team is a program that pairs up members of the Police Department with leaders in the gay community to address problems of mutual concern such as sex in public places. A police officer and a gay community leader respond to areas where blatant sexual activity is occurring and in lieu of arrest, hand out flyers containing informative information. The slogan of "what you do is your business, where you do it is ours" was used to promote the program.
2. When was the program created and why?
The program was created in August, 1996. Its purpose is to eliminate this type of sexual behavior from occurring in public places, control the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and to avoid the volumes of arrests of gay individuals.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
The effectiveness of the program is measured by a reduction of complaints from residents, less cruising in the area by gay individuals, a significant drop in arrests and positive feedback from the gay community.
4. How is the program financed?
The program is funded from the City of Miami Beach Police Department's budget.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?
The community is involved in the program by monitoring targeted areas and reporting violations, riding with patrol officers and by assisting with the distribution of flyers. The effort has a positive impact and the community is very appreciative of the quick response of the Police Department and the long term effect of the program.
6. What are the major lessons learned that would be helpful for others trying to implement a similar program?
When the Police Department was first made aware of the activities that were occurring in public places after hours, our first reaction was to create a detail and enforce all applicable laws and ordinances. This resulted in numerous arrests, however, this action generated police complaints and negative interactions with gay community leaders. Our initial efforts were not cost effective and did very little to deter this behavior. By involving the community and gay leaders, we were able to devise a more comprehensive plan of action and produce long term results.
7. What specific advice do you have for mayors interested in replicating a program such as yours?
Ensure their department heads have a strong working relationship with community leaders and involve them in resolving issues of mutual concern. Law enforcement alone is not always a viable solution for obtaining long term results involving dynamic issues.For more information, please contact:
Major Don De Lucca
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J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352