Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson applauds the announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice that the agency has awarded Metropolitan Dade County and the City of Miami a $3,125,000 and $1,875,000 grant, respectively, through its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services COPS Hiring Program. They are among 184 cities to receive such grants, which will be used to create, and in some cases retain, law enforcement positions, and to increase community policing capability and crime prevention efforts.
“Gun violence has reached epidemic levels in Miami-Dade County. It’s bad enough when adults use guns to hammer out their differences, but this plague is affecting our children at alarming rates. In the past three years, more than 100 children have been killed by gunfire and just three weeks into the 2016-17 school year, a fourth grader and two teens were shot and killed,” said Rep. Wilson. “I am thankful that the Justice Department has awarded Miami and Miami-Dade these desperately needed funds, which I pray will help curb the growing youth homicide rate, reduce gun violence overall and create a safe environment for our residents.”
Juveniles under the age of 18 reportedly account for about 10 percent of all homicides in Miami, which is double the national rate. In addition, between the years 2014 and 2016, 3,377 gun-related incidents and 141 gun-related homicides in the city involved young people age 24 and younger.
Earlier this year, Rep. Wilson appealed to Attorney General Loretta Lynch for funds to combat gun violence.
“Despite all of our efforts to stem the violence, victims and their families, concerned citizens, and all those who care about young people are demanding that more is done to stop these unnecessary killings,” the Florida lawmaker said in a letter to the attorney general. “I, too, believe that additional Department of Justice resources are needed to ensure that our goals are realized and sustained.”
In 2014, Rep. Wilson helped secure a $1 million grant from the Justice Department to support cross-sector partnerships and innovative strategies to tackle crime and violence in Miami-Dade’s Northside District. During the most recent federal appropriations process, the congresswoman also requested a more robust level of funding for the COPS program to advance community policing and anti-crime programs. With these grants, MPD and Miami Dade will hire 25 and 15 new officers, respectively.
The Miami Police Department has pledged to use the grant to investigate, prevent, and reduce gun violence in Model City, Allapattah and Little Haiti, “where the threat of firearms-related violence has become part of the daily fabric,” it says. Miami-Dade County will use its grant to foster community policing and building trust between residents and law enforcement, which is key to decreasing tensions between the two groups and increasing mutual respect.