Police offer to deploy cameras, extra patrols to Entertainment District
By Risa Polansky
Security cameras and Miami police officers could keep an eye on the city's Entertainment District should the area Community Redevelopment Agency approve an $840,000 grant to the police force.
The digital cameras would offer 360-degree shots of an area spanning from Northeast Fifth Street to Northeast 14th Street and I-95 to Northeast First Avenue, said Deputy Chief Frank Fernandez in a presentation Monday.
The department recently installed cameras downtown, allowing for around-the-clock surveillance.
Overtown residents have been asking for cameras, said Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, the agency chair whose district includes Overtown.
She also requested officer presence on the street so people don't feel like "they're under one big microscope."
Deputy Chief Fernandez proposed using agency funds to cover overtime for one sergeant and five officers to patrol the streets Friday and Saturday nights.
Board members were concerned about using agency funds to back city services, something Executive Director Jim Villacorta warned against.
But the program would be a special police visibility project, the deputy chief said, not a means to supplant city functions.
Cameras are "the way of the future," Commissioner Tomás Regalado said. He called enhancing security one of the best uses of redevelopment dollars.
Agency board members have yet to vote on the initiative. They should see a formal request for funding next month.
Should they approve the program, it could oust another security project considered in October.
The proposed SPi program, pronounced "spy," would focus on security, parking and area identity using up to $400,000 to fund uniformed security representatives on the streets 24 hours a day for a six-month pilot period.
It would cover Northwest 14th Street to Northwest 10th Street and Biscayne Boulevard to Third Avenue.
Verasys, the private risk mitigation and security business planning the project in tandem with area business owners, is headed up in part by former Miami Beach Police Chief Don Deluca.