Exclusive interview with Edwin Lopez
By: Diana Bello Aristizábal
“I am very grateful to have been chosen as the Chief of Police of a city like Doral that really supports law enforcement,” said Edwin Lopez in an exclusive interview for this journal after being appointed on January 11.
Lopez, who since 2018 held the role of Miami-Dade Schools Police Department’ Chief of Police, was elected by a unanimous vote during a Doral council meeting following his nomination by Barbara Hernández, Doral’s City Manager.
In this regard, Mayor Christi Fraga stated: “The City Manager is responsible for the hiring of the Chief of Police, as is the case with all city employees. I have the utmost faith in Mrs. Hernandez’s judgment and decision in naming a new Chief of Police that will lead the Doral Police Department in this new and important chapter for our city.”
“At this critical time in Doral’s history, following so much growth, the safety of our families is paramount. As such, my hope is that the new Chief of Police brings fresh ideas to the organization, a passion for working closely and openly with the community, and innovative solutions to make Doral the safest city in the state of Florida”, said Mayor Fraga.
Edwin Lopez was motivated to take on this role, among other things, because of the fully transparent and inclusive collective approach about security that Doral has, which he believes will help him produce better results.
This approach is linked with the sense of community that the police has, which the new Chief of Police plans to perpetuate. “I want to listen and validate the perspectives and concerns of the neighbors to define by mutual agreement in which aspects we can make enhancements to the security.”
On the other hand, he thinks it’s important to educate residents in law enforcement. “Our police officers are also educators who must be part of the solution. We are here to educate and be sensitive to the needs of our citizens.”
The above doesn’t mean there will be tolerance for crime, since the priority for the new chief will be to keep all citizens safe. “If something comes up that could jeopardize this goal, we will take swift action to ensure the situation is appropriately handled.”
In addition, he also plans to put his experience in the county schools at the service of this community. “We have the safest school district in America and that’s because we have an amazing police department and a school community that prioritize this issue. My wish is to apply at the city level the security practices that have kept our schools safe,” he emphasizes.
A police force more connected to the people!
Aside from talking about the focus of his mandate, the new Chief of Police shared his strategy on how will he address some of the problems that the city faces, such as car racing, domestic violence, theft or traffic incidents.
“Our officers will be proactive rather than reactive in handling all of these matters, and in order for us to move in that direction, my goal will be to increase visibility on the streets. I will make sure there is more police presence so that the community feels safe and people think twice before committing a crime.”
But increasing police presence is not just about having more police vehicles on the road. According to Chief Lopez, a community police should knock on people’s doors, visit businesses, get involved in association meetings, walk in key areas such as Downtown Doral or City Place, and organize events in which the police has direct contact with residents.
Under this perspective, he will seek to improve traffic and ensure that those who visit our city do so without disturbing it. “Due to the fact that Doral is such an amazing hotspot, it has become a recurring place for non-residents. I will join efforts to ensure they also follow the rules.”
To achieve all of the above, one of his priorities will be to increase the workforce within the police. He will launch a plan to add and retain more police officers in the department, focusing on improving current working conditions. Having a robust team of police officers will allow for more visibility on the streets, including evening hours that have become crowded.
“It is critical for this city to have the right number of officers working overnight. I personally plan to lead heads-on by doing midnight or two, four in the morning shifts. As a parent, I know is important that our children are safe at school and that visitors and residents feel safe when they are in our establishments.”
The new Chief of Police takes this role after having been employed for more than 23 years by the Miami-Dade School District, where he began as a Physical Education teacher before becoming a School Resource Officer for the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department.
While in that position, he was named officer of the year and was awarded the Life Saving award on two occasions. He’s been a detective, sergeant, commander, major, deputy chief, and chief. In addition, since 2008 he is an adjunct teacher in the Criminal Justice program at Miami-Dade College.