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Miami Beach Uses Civilian Volunteer Patrol To Help Deter Crime

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - The city of Miami Beach rolls out a new policing program with the help of residents, it will allow civilian volunteer patrols to hit the streets to help support officers and deter crime.

The group is made up of residents and business owners who have completed the Miami Beach Civilian Police Academy and passed a background check.  So far, the team includes five people, Valerie Navarrete, is one of them. 

"We are trained to just see something say something," said Navarrete, who adds she joined to effort to help community safety concerns.  Navarrete says their goal is to improve the quality of life for residents through high visibility foot patrols and they have specific instructions to not engage criminals.

"Our job is just to alleviate the police of little things, no criminal things, so the police can actually focus on crimes.  So, if we see something wrong, we just called the police, we're not going to interfere. We don't interfere, we don't have any arrest powers," said added Navarrete.

The volunteers will not be armed and instead will be using their radio and an app to report crime, vandalism, graffiti, noise, and even parking violations.

Commissioner Steve Meiner pushed the program's implementation, and he says he think it will help combat crime in the area. "Our number one priority is to prevent crime, police visibility and police presence are a big part of that, and this is an added component of that," added Meiner.

The beliefs were echoed by Police Chief Richard Clements, "The key for us is really for the most part is increasing collaboration between ourselves in the community, to give us another set of eyes and ears out on the street to work with us also to be ambassadors of the city in what it's trying to do as a pertains to the projection of a safe environment and a safe community," said Chief Clements.

Residents, like Shirey Segworth, agree with the effort, saying they will feel saver knowing more people will be on the lookout. "Some of the side streets and things where the cops don't always go, I thinking that having a community person reporting on that would probably benefit us pretty significantly," the Segworth said. 

Resident, Asma Etouil, agreed, but added she is also concerned about the volunteer's safety. "I like it as long as they don't do anything, meaning they just call the police and tell them what's happening, then I think it's OK".

Official say program will cost just about $27,000 a year that's for uniforms and police radios. They are also looking for more volunteers, ti sign uo contact you police department.

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