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Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava In DC As President Biden Lays Out Plan To Combat Violence

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava is in Washington D.C. to take part in a national discussion on preventing crime.

"The president is coming out early with this bold agenda that covers the gamut in terms of prevention strategies from a law enforcement perspective, illegal guns, and also prevention," she explains. "Also working with young people and working with our communities."

President Joe Biden announced the initiative Wednesday evening.

"There are things we know that reduce gun violence and violent crime," he says. "Background checks before purchasing a firearm are important, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. No one needs to have a weapon that can fire 30, 40, 50 or even up to 100 rounds, unless you think the deer are wearing Kevlar vests, or something. Community policing keeps neighborhoods safe and folks out of trouble. These efforts save lives."

In terms of local change, the President discussed funding through his American Rescue Plan.

"These cities seeing a rise in gun violence can use the American Rescue Plan dollars to hire officers needed for community policing and pay for overtime," Biden says. "Mayors can also buy crime-fighting technology, like gunshot detection systems. They can use the funding to scale up services for the residents like mental health services."

This is in response to national data that shows homicides up 30% and gun violence in some large cities up by 8%, according to the White House.

Miami-Dade has seen some shocking gun violence over the last few weeks, including 30 people shot over Memorial Day Weekend.

"That scares the general public, and the perception is that crime is up," says Ignacio Alvarez, a retired Major with Miami-Dade Police and current attorney.

Based on numbers from the Miami-Dade Police Department from January to June 20201, compared to last year, there was a 9% uptick in homicide and 18% increase in rape.

However, overall violent crime is down more than 13%, and non-violent crime is down almost 20%.

"If we can get the community involved, keep the juveniles busy, we can continue what we are doing," Alvarez says. "As you can see, 13% drop in violent crime. That's a huge success for Miami-Dade Police Department.

Former Miami-Dade Police Director, Juan Perez, sees this D.C. meeting as an important opportunity to receive some federal funding for programs that work to prevent crime, including the local Peace and Prosperity Plan.

"My hope is that, when she comes back, the president and his administration provide funding as well to law-enforcement for federal partnerships," he says.

"In Miami-Dade, the City of Miami, and Miami Gardens, you may not have the increases in crime based on numbers, but what you have seen lately is the increase in violence," he explains. "So it's just as important to address that level of violence as it is across the nation where they see an increase of overall crime, especially an increase in violent crime. We don't want that here in Miami-Dade."

This all creates a multi-level effort for long-term strategies to prevent crimes down the line.

"We have to deal not only with the safety issues right now and stop the bleeding, but we must get to the bottom of how these crimes are being committed," Levine Cava says.

The other local mayors in attendance are from Rapid City, South Dakota and Baltimore, Maryland.

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