Liberty City police major targets gangs and guns

caines | 5/2/2013, 5:30 a.m.

When Dennis Jackson, II was a student at Norland Senior High School and then Bethune-Cookman University, he says one of the last things on his mind was becoming a police officer. But as he watched incidents of crime escalate and more young Blacks lose their lives to senseless violence, his concern for making his community safer motivated him to get involved and try to make a difference. Now in an ironic twist of fate, the 20-year veteran of the City of Miami Police Department has been promoted to the rank of major and has come back home. Jackson was recently assigned as the head of the North District Substation which serves Liberty City, Little Haiti and the upper east side of Miami. His staff of 144 men and women includes 96 Blacks and no matter what rank they hold, most are routinely sent out into the streets where their visible presence and interaction with the community help to promote our message of non-violence. We are constantly pumping the message of peace and seeking ways to engage our youth, he said. Summer break will begin soon and were already formulating safe activities so that kids have something positive to do with their free time. When theyre idle and bored, thats when a lot of youth get into trouble. Jackson, 43, also believes that effective policing begins with partnering and sharing resources with other local police departments and elected officials. To that end he has teamed up with City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones on the Stop the Violence Alliance, participated in school tours where kids and cops can interact and has facilitated youth panel discussions so that he and his staff get a better sense of the concerns and problems facing todays young adults.

Crime on the decline

Jackson says that despite the intermittent problems of shootings and violence in the Pork and Beans projects, the North District can boast a double-digit drop in crime in all three documented areas. I think a lot of times certain incidents arise that make for sensational news stories and put our station under greater scrutiny, he said. But that takes the focus off of the great job that our officers are doing every day. You dont achieve a drop in crime by 19 percent without consistent team work. Jackson adds that because of gang activities and violence initiated by gangs, he has had to put additional resources, including special investigators and gang units, in hot spots in Liberty City and Little Haiti. Their hard work is now beginning to pay off. We have a problem with guns on the streets weapons that are in the hands of the wrong people. he said. Thats why I have stepped up regular communication and participated in initiatives with officers from Miami-Dade County and others. Police departments tend to be territorial but those that are willing to share information and resources often discover that they can circumvent many dangerous situations before they occur. Every day its something different. But the key is getting up from behind the desk, guiding my troops and providing them with motivation and direction. Thats all pretty easy because this is my community. The church that I pastor, New Mount Moriah MBC, is on 67th and NW 14th Avenue right here in the hood. Some might see my job as difficult but I see it as a blessing. Ive been allowed to come back home where I can serve every day. Thats a real honor. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com