By Mayor Joy Cooper
HALLANDALE BEACH -
Use of force does not only mean the shooting of a fire arm, it entails various techniques that begin with simple verbal communication
As our country is still going through turmoil over Ferguson, our city is taking measures to proactively evaluate our own use of force protocols. Even before the use of the police force became a national discussion, our city set out on a mission to improve our standards and increase our community policing efforts citywide.
Over the past 5 years, there had been eight police involved in shootings within our city. One of the incidents was a non-contact shooting, four of the incidents resulted in injuries to one subject in each event and three of the incidents resulted in one fatality each. The individual shootings are at various stages of investigation ranging from completely closed with a finding of justified by prosecutorial authorities to actively pending investigations. It should be noted that in some cases, events leading to the discharge of fire arms began with crimes outside of our city limits.
To understand why there was this increase in shooting incidents, the chief recommended that we hire the firm of Greenwood and Striecher to conduct a fully independent audit of our department and protocols. Our department is already accredited, but this is a focused evaluation that involves all stakeholders.
Use of force does not simply mean the shooting of a fire arm, it entails various techniques that begin with simple verbal communication, all the way to the point of using necessary force to protect life. The process will involve everyone; the commission, administration, all levels of officers and most importantly, our residents. It will include an evaluation of how our officers are trained and what is lacking in that training, our departments, cultural and interactions with the community.
Through the many news outlets, the point of training has not been a major focus. Regretfully coming out of the worst recession our nation has seen in many years, cities had to cut back on training. The main priority is always having police working in the community. This means rather than laying off officers, other areas are trimmed.
The final report will be a working document that will provide a guidance in what we are doing right and what needs to be improved. The Chief also informed the commission that during the evaluation process, changes may occur right away if recommended by the firm. There will be many avenues for our entire community to engage and share their input. This will also be a good way to educate the community about policing and the many nuances and legal regulations that must be followed that are often misunderstood.
This past Monday, the City Commission was presented with the design for our new main fire station. In May, we hired the architect firm of Currie Sowards and Aguila which has a history of designing over 30 stations for departments here in South Florida. Since May they have been working directly with Chief Dan Sullivan and key fire personnel to ensure that we create a state-of-the-art fire station and Emergency Operations Facility.
The plans have already hit some major miles stones in preparation for approval to go out for bidding and permitting. The city as an agency must go through the same process as every other development that is constructed in the city. Plans go through a rigorous development review to ensure they will meet all of the south Florida Building Codes in addition to the other fire building standards. After the application goes to the Planning and Zoning Board for review. In January, the 60 percent construction documents will be ready an then the project will go out to bid with and anticipated date of March.
The station will be a two story, 25,000 square foot facility that will house our main fire operations. The first floor will include four apparatus bays, dorms, a day room, kitchen facilities and supervisory offices. Adjacent to the apparatus bays, the architects have designed bunker gear rooms, a work out facility and a fire training tower. This will mean our officers will have direct access to training for fire suppression without having to travel all the time to outside facilities.
The second floor, will house all of the administrative offices of the department, conference room, EOC staging area/training room and a computer data room. The building envelope is being built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane with dual fuel emergency generator back up, which will be able to run the entire building. The architects have committed to build to a Silver LEED standard with the goal to reach Gold, they are one point away from this top standard. If it is reached it will be our city’s first gold standard building.
The city met another milestone on the way to completing a world class park system and implementing the will of the voters of our community. On Monday, the ordinance filing for bond validation was passed on a 3-2 vote. This process is the legal process that entails the city going to the court for a hearing to verify the bond was adopted in the correct manor. Our city attorney has worked side by side with a special bond council to ensure that have we followed all of the rules and guidelines required when passing bonds. The hearing should be within thirty to sixty days.
As we are all getting ready for the holidays, please be safe. Also remember to shop local and support our main street businesses.
As always feel free to reach out to me with your questions, concerns and ideas to make our city a better place. I can be reached at my office number: (954) 457-1318. You can call or text me on my cell at: (954) 632-5700. Or you can visit my web-site at: www.mayorjoycooper.com.