Police bank on tips

Law enforcement hope rewards will bring answers in Liberty City shootings

D. Kevin McNeir | 11/28/2013, 9 a.m.
Miami-Dade police are searching for two Black males who entered a family-owned business, Hong Kong Nails [14832 NW 7th Avenue], ...

Tanaka Charles, whose son was shot and killed several years ago, has become an advocate for families, particularly mothers, who are left to mourn the murders of their children. She participated in the town hall meeting.

“I founded A Mother’s Heart after my son and his friends were shot and killed,” she said. “Sometimes people don’t want to talk with the police because they are treated more like criminals than victims. In the past, we had officers that walked the beat and knew the community. That’s how you get people to trust you and to then share what they know. You have to make people feel comfortable talking to the police.”

“We don’t need to be treated like the bad guys,” said business owner Cuthbert Harewood. “Whatever happened to our working together? We may live or work in the ‘hood’ but we still deserve to be treated with respect. That’s not what’s happening now.”

But police say they have had some successes. Initiatives like the Gun Bounty Program have reduced the number of guns on the streets and taken them out of the hands of criminals. Rewards offered by the CrimeStoppers program have encouraged tipsters to come forward. According to Detectives George Denbow and Mike Smith, since the Gun Bounty Program was started in June 2007, they have recovered 750 guns and made 450 arrests. And calls made to CrimeStoppers [305-471-TIPS] have led to rewards in excess of $3,000.

“We can end this violence but it’s going to take a team effort,” Denbow said. “We don’t use the term snitch — we see those who have the courage to come forward as concerned citizens.”

“If you see something, say something,” said law enforcement veteran Ed Harris. “It’s easy to turn the other way but let it happen to your family. The more bad folks we get off the streets, the safer we can make our community. The police have the might and the power but it’s the community that must have the courage.”

Daniels added that town hall meetings will be held at least twice a month and will probably take place at local churches as part of their Bible Study hour. Final details are now being made and will be announced to the community.