By: Diana Bello Aristizábal
Making the City of Doral a safe community in which the common good prevails is one of the goals its inhabitants share. This was precisely the topic addressed in the latest ‘Coffee with the Community’ hosted by Doral Family Journal.
In this regard, attendees, including residents, city councilors, and members of the Doral Police, agreed that the massive arrival of immigrants who don’t know how the system works, and the accelerated pace of life, among other factors, are threatening healthy coexistence among all.
One of the problems identified is that a large number of residents don’t comply with traffic regulations. This fact motivated the creation of a resolution that supports state law SB588, which authorizes cities to implement speed detection systems in school zones in order to later fine violators. This resolution was adopted unanimously by the Doral Council a few months ago.
“We want our school community to have the best security in the entire county. This resolution will help us make the streets safer because speeding represents a danger to students and teachers who are crossing the street. At this moment, we are in the process of evaluating how to implement these systems,” Councilwoman Maureen Porras, proponent of the resolution, says.
Being in a constant rush is one of the reasons why people drive at high speed, thinks Vice Mayor Oscar Puig-Corve. “Every morning, I see children crossing the street and drivers who don’t wait and just speed up. This could lead to a tragedy,” he says.
For Zaida Ramirez, a Doral resident, the problem is that population growth has caused respect for the laws to be lost. “Many bring bad habits from their origin countries and want to put them into practice here. For this reason, I think there should be tougher penalties in place as people don’t change if their pockets are not hurt.”
“It’s a matter of education (or lack thereof),” says resident Mireya Goni Camejo. For her, it’s incomprehensible that, for example, a person consciously makes a wrong turn just because they don’t want to wait, a situation that is frequently repeated.
However, the constant resident turnover makes it more difficult for the police to evenly educate the population about the laws. In past times, associations had more landlords than tenants, while today it’s the other way around. New immigrants arriving in rental communities often fail to understand how the system works, and if they do, they already have to leave, forcing authorities to start over.
However, the Doral Police is making efforts to have more officers on the streets. “They are very involved in everything that happens under the guidance of Chief Lopez, who exercises a correct leadership. In the city councils, there are always at least two police officers present,” says Vice Mayor Puig-Corve.
For Chief of Police Edwin Lopez, it has been a challenge to recruit officers because young people are choosing other careers. Even so, with the help of the local government, the police have been able to add more staff positions and organize more events to educate the community. “Today, there are more officers on the street than ever before, and that’s why crime is down 10 percent this year,” he says.
“The police cannot be on every corner at all times, their actions are limited. We have to help them do their job by behaving in a civil manner,” Mireya Goni Camejo says.
Zaida Ramirez suggests disseminating information directly to condominium associations on key topics such as traffic regulations and what is and isn’t allowed to do in Doral in order for new residents to start educating themselves. Many are unaware that individual decisions can have an impact on a collective level. This is the case of those who sublease even though it’s prohibited.
“When someone applies to rent a property, a background check is requested, which doesn’t happen if a room is rented. The problem of those that sublease is they could bring, for example, a pedophile into their house without knowing it,” Vice Mayor Puig-Corve explains. This not only puts the integrity of the property resident at risk, but also of the entire community, as it opens a door for dangerous people to roam our streets.
But education should not only be focused on adults but also on children and adolescents who often spend more time behind a screen than sharing with the family. “We are seeing that a large number of children grow up with only one parent who works up to two jobs. So, who raises them? Well, cellphones,” Chief Lopez states.
For this reason, Doral schools, especially charters, in which the local police can interfere more, have been working to educate students through programs such as D.A.R.E., that helps prevent illegal drugs use in the youth, and active shooter drills. All this with the purpose of giving them more confidence in authorities, while sending the message to the population that in Doral there is a 0 tolerance for crime policy.
“Laws are made to be followed and the least we can all aspire to is to respect each other and make good use of our freedom,” concludes Ana Frost.