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Miami-Dade's 'Operation Summer Heat' Program Yields Results, But There's Work To Be Done

File photo of a police officer in a Miami-Dade police vehicle with his siren on
AL DIAZ / MIAMI HERALD
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Miami-Dade Commissioner Kionne McGhee, Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez and community activist Lyle Muhammad discuss efforts to curb violence in the county.

At the beginning of summer, Miami-Dade County introduced an interagency effort meant to curb gun violence and violent crime. It was called Operation Summer Heat.

The initiative brought together local, state and federal agencies and an increased use of surveillance to try to prevent crimes.

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The effort followed a series of high-profile shootings and a warning delivered from the Miami-Dade County Commission dais by Commissioner Kionne McGhee.

“Intel has shown us that there will be a bloody summer as it relates to the retaliations that's about to happen,” McGhee said in May. “Within the last two days there has been four homicides within the area, and from the intel we're getting from the ground, they're anticipating more.”

More than 12 weeks later, McGhee said Operation Summer Heat was fruitful.

“What we’re seeing is there has been impact due to our response from the commission, from the mayor’s office, from the police department, from the community buy-in — we have been able to combat those retaliations that had been planned.”

According to the Miami-Dade Police Department, more than 1,800 people were arrested and more than 700 guns were confiscated from May through the end of August during Operation Summer Heat.

Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez said the program has been so successful that it will remain in place until the end of the year.

“The mayor was gracious enough to let me continue this through December because we want to make sure that, as we move into the holiday season, and now with school open, that we keep this tempo and let everyone know that we are not going to tolerate gun violence here," Ramirez said.

Lyle Muhammad is the executive director of Circle of Brotherhood. He said the systemic causes behind community violence need to be addressed in order to promote real, sustainable change.

“It would be silly to not applaud any effort that has moved the needle toward saving and preserving life in the right direction,” said Muhammad. “However, we have not attacked the cultural mindset of violence that is necessary for us not to be in the same situation over and over again.”

Muhammad says county leaders should invest in programs that address the trauma associated with violence and the dire circumstances that can make individuals turn to a life of crime.

Andrea Perdomo is a producer for WLRN News.