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MDPD fighting more than crime

FL law enforcement leaders say it starts in the classroom

Ashley Montgomery | 4/3/2014, 9 a.m.
Law enforcement leaders (L-R) J.D. Patterson, Morris Copeland, Ian Moffett, Miami Dade County JSD employee and Leanard Burgess gather for a great cause. Photo by Ashley Montgomery

Police, law enforcement leaders and school officials are banding together to fight crime on a whole new level as they announce a new initiative to improve the lives of Black youths by keeping classrooms safe for hundreds of thousands students in Miami-Dade's public schools.

At a press conference downtown attended by officials from Miami-Dade Police Department and county's public school system leaders announced new efforts to reduce crime among Black youth. The groups have made a commitment to show greater support to youth within the classroom and their curriculum.

“Education is a direct correlation of why it’s difficult [for adolescents] to proceed — the law enforcement encourages Standards because it will increase the criteria for law enforcers [in the future],” Morris Copeland, Miami Dade County Director of Juvenile Service said. 

Copeland is responsible for every child that is admitted into the Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department (JSD). He provides leadership to a department whose mission is to service arrested juveniles, those at-risk of being arrested and their families. 

“We build expectations — what we are trying to do is start working with the School System to be able to move through life as a positive citizens,” Copeland said. “We cannot rest on our laurels.” 

Copeland was joined by Miami Dade School Board Police Chief, Ian Moffett, North Miami Police Chief Leonard Burgess and J.D. Patterson, Miami Dade Police Director — all whom spoke from personal experiences,. Their messages about the need to keep the implementation of standards on track was echoed by Carlos Curbelo, Miami-Dade School District 7 member. 

Miami-Dade has the 4th largest school system in the nation. In recent reports, the graduation rate for Black male students was 52 percent.

“I want to emphasize that we have good news to report today,” Curbelo said. “We’re already seeing an impact of these Standards in our classroom, where teachers are encouraging students to think more critically and develop the skills and knowledge that will lead our society and our economy forward.” 

In 2013 alone, Black juveniles were arrested more than any other race in Miami-Dade County according to the Booking Statistics Report by Miami-Dade County JSD. 

“If people are uneducated, then they have a very difficult time getting a job and sometimes when people are in these types of positions, they wound up becoming desperate,” Patterson said. “Its like putting your money where your mouth is.” 

A law enforcement officer with Miami-Dade for 30 years, Patterson has been on the force since 1985. 

Patterson wants the community to understand that keeping youths off the streets can help them stay on track to gain successful careers and bright meaningful lives. 

Officials said they also believe that instilling commitment and education more early in a child’s life will lead them to make better decisions which could reduce police brutality cases. 

“Education has a lot to do with problem-solving skills,” Patterson said. “With proper education less Officers and the other party won’t be so confrontational — educated youth turns into responsible adults.”