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'We Get It Done': Miami-Dade's Gun Violence Crackdown 'Operation Summer Heat' Still Going Strong

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Before the Surfside building collapse, before the Haitian President was assassinated, before widespread protests in Cuba sparked solidarity rallies across Miami, the story that dominated the attention of the media were the mass shootings that families across Miami-Dade County grieving.

At the time of the shootings, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced plans to combat gun violence, including a crackdown by police known as Operation Summer Heat and long-term projects to offer alternatives to teenagers at risk of falling prey to gangs.

And yet while the media largely shifted all of their attention on the more recent crises, CBSMiami wondered what was happening to those plans laid out by the mayor.

"Surfside was a terrible tragedy, not only for our community, but for our nation," said Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez. "And it was just all hands-on deck to not only try to rescue victims, but to bring closure to the families. [But] the Miami-Dade Police Department is focused on providing service for everyone in this community. All four corners of this county are the men and women of this department continued working. So Operation Summer Heat, our commitment to gun violence still continued."

According to Ramirez, since the Surfside tragedy, Miami-Dade Police officers made 311 arrests in the districts most affected by gun violence and seized 110 firearms.

"They were out there working and providing service for the community," he said of his patrol officers.  "But one of the beauties of this department is that we're very versatile and we work together, and we just get it done. And that's the resiliency of this department, the resiliency of this community. I'm not leaving anybody behind, and we haven't forgotten about anybody."   

One area that has been affected is the homicide unit. Because the cause of the building collapse is under criminal investigation, detectives had to be pulled in to work Surfside. Nevertheless, homicide detectives are still running down leads on their open cases, Ramirez said.

"It would be disingenuous for me to say that my officers are fresh, they're tired," he noted. "They've been serving this community through the whole COVID pandemic. They were the ones who were out there in the streets and now here we are with the Surfside tragedy."

The other part of the mayor's initiative was a program called Fit To Lead, which offered summer jobs to teenagers. In the midst of the Surfside recovery, the Fit To Lead program launched with the hiring of 350 teens between the ages of 15 and 19, according to Morris Copeland, the Chief Community Services Officer in the Mayor's Office.

"We wanted to make sure that we were providing opportunities for young people through mentorship, through job opportunities, along with making sure that their mental health was taken care of," said Copeland of the program. "So it was a holistic approach in order to address some of the systemic issues that our young people find themselves in."

"And so it's more like a mentorship that's providing them with opportunities for jobs and also it's giving them apprenticeships so they will get certifications," he continued. "This will give them the opportunity to advance themselves if they choose to go to college or if they choose a trade. We want to give them an opportunity to open them up to something different because this is what they would be better."

Those young people in the program will make $13.40 an hour during the three-month stint. The program is being funded with money given to the county for the naming rights of the Heat's downtown basketball arena.


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