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Heard On Sundial: Police Accountability, COVID-19 Infections And Sewage, Miami-Dade Gyms Reopening

Activists confront City of Miami Police on Interstate 95 during George Floyd protest in downtown Miami on Saturday, May 30, 2020.

On this Thursday, June 4, episode of Sundial:

Holding Police Accountable 

Protesters across the country are calling for police to be held accountable for their actions following violence by officers at demonstrations. The Ft. Lauderdale Police Department is asking for any video footage from protestors at Sunday’s demonstration as an officer is being investigated after shooting a woman in the head with a foam rubber bullet

But the impartiality of these internal reviews is being questioned. Could civilian investigative panels be part of the solution?

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"We cannot suspend an officer," said Rodney Jacobs, the Assistant Director for the City of Miami's CIP. "But we do give recommendations to the chief of police, the city manager and the commissioners to say 'Hey these are our findings, this is what we believe is right and accurate and you all should do something about it.'"

We spoke with Jacobs about what a CIP can do and what's out of its control. He's an advocate for the Miami-Dade Police Department, the largest police force in the state, to have a civilian investigative panel.

Can we predict the next wave of COVID-19 infections based on our...poop?

Public health officials and politicians have argued the key to reopening our economy is understanding how and where the coronavirus has spread. There is contact tracing, diagnostic and antibody testing. Public health experts may have another tool to track spread in our sewage. Miami-Dade County is now sampling untreated waste as a possible way to broadly estimate infection rates in the population.

"The idea is that if they keep testing the water, every week, and they are able to get these curves of infection numbers they might be able to say 'well, I’m noticing a spike this week'," said the Miami Herald's environment reporter Adriana Brasileiro. "It's another tool to look at what's happening in the community."

We spoke with Brasileiro about the county’s program to test sewage for COVID-19. We also asked her about those giant toxic toads coming out in South Florida as the days get rainier.

Miami-Dade County Gyms To Reopen On Monday

Miami-Dade is the only county in the state where gyms haven’t been allowed to reopen. That's going to change next week. Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced a plan to allow gyms in the county to reopen June 8. An official order with guidelines was made public late Thursday afternoon, and social distancing and other restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are expected to follow.

"We want to make sure that we offer a hybrid option," says Jessica Bergman, a coach and the owner of the Downtown Strength and Conditioning gym in Miami, about continuing to have virtual options. "We understand that there are people excited to be back and others that will take their time in coming back."

We spoke with Bergman about her plans to run the gym safely during a pandemic.

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.