Safe Vacations in Doral: A shared commitment


By: Diana Bello Aristizábal

Para leer en Español


There is one month left until summer begins, that time of the year when families leave homework, extracurricular activities, and everyday worries behind to go to the beach or park or visit a mall. With so many people on the streets at the same time, enjoying the break as safely as possible depends on both the authorities and the community.

“We take incidents that occur in the city and see how we can improve our deployment and what are we doing right,” Edwin Lopez, Doral Chief of Police, says referring to the April 6 shooting at Martini Bar, City Place Doral, that left two people dead and seven injured. The event made the city’s police department notice the work done so far around security has paid off, because although there were casualties, the response was quick.

“When I got to Doral, our agency was not trained sufficiently in mass casualty and active shooter training like other agencies were. That’s why we conducted multiple full-scale functional drills and training sessions with our police officers, so they knew the exact protocols to follow in the event of a mass casualty or active shooter incident,” the Chief of Police explained.

A year before the City Place shooting, police held a mass casualty functional drill at the same location. As a result, the day an emergency arrived, officers deployed efficiently and assisted injured individuals, as they also received medical training, thus reducing the number of victims.

“Our police officers, who now have a medical background, can help save lives,” Lopez states, highlighting that the support of elected officials with resources to increase security, communication between authorities and residents, and the commitment of officers are the reasons why Doral is today one of the safest cities in the county. But living in a safe community doesn’t make us immune to danger.

“From the moment you leave your house there is an inherent risk, whether you go to the gas station, a concert, a nightclub, church, or school. We have seen mass shootings everywhere. Yes, we do need to continue working but we need to also realize that you can never guarantee with 100% certainty that an incident will not occur.”


Security strategies

In this shared work of improving the safety of our community, the first thing the police have been doing for some time now is placing more officers on the streets. “As we hire more personnel, we will continue to increase police presence on the roads,” The Chief of Police announces.

On the other hand, the department is in the process of consolidating multiple specialized units to restrain crime; and some detectives are working with the Miami-Dade Gang Unit and Homeland Security to prevent a future gang problem from arising in Doral.

Technology is also being used. Currently, there are more than 150 cameras on the streets, including intersections, and license plate readers. Additionally, the Doral Police recently received a grant aimed at increasing technological capabilities within the city.

In this aspect, the role of the camera integration program Connect Doral, launched in February 2023, has been relevant, since it allows authorities to remotely tapping cameras located in residential communities and commercial establishments to respond in a timely manner to criminal acts.

All of these strategies have the ultimate goal of reducing crime as much as possible, and it seems the city is on the right track. “We have seen an amazing reduction in overall crime in the city between 2022 and 2023 with a 12% decrease,” Chief Lopez says.

Regarding strategies to mitigate risk during the summer, the first task is to educate residents to prevent not only the incidence of crimes but also accidents. “We are already anticipating what is to come: children staying up late on the streets or at summer camps, and an increase in the use of scooters.”

He encourages parents to be more responsible when taking care of their children. “We always see children walking freely around while adults have their heads down on their phones. I think a text message, or a social media post can always wait.”

Another task will be to deploy officers to summer camps and other places visited frequently by families such as malls and parks to ensure more police presence than usual during the summer, especially at evening hours.

But none of this comes into effect if the community doesn’t remain vigilant, even more so considering that many people today carry guns. This translates into contacting the police in the event of any suspicious activity or criminal act; monitoring our surroundings at all times, for example, parking lots, residential buildings or when leaving a nightclub or a store; checking social media and having basic criteria in case a shooting were to happen.

“There isn’t a one shoe fits all answer in this scenario. We have to ask ourselves many questions beforehand, such as, for example, are we fast enough or not? Are we with a child or alone? Can we run somewhere else or is it more effective to hide? It’s always about making the most appropriate or least risky decision that helps us and others to be safe,” Lopez concludes.


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