ALLAPATTAH (CBS4) – Miami’s interim police chief is shifting the department’s focus on how they will combat crime in Miami neighborhoods plagued by deadly shootings.
Interim Chief Manuel Orosa said he’s directed his force to move away from undercover police officers operating out of unmarked cars. Instead, he wants to return to highly visible community policing by having more uniformed police officers in the most crime prone neighborhoods.
“I hear the pleas and basically as of Sunday we have shifted 30 officers back to patrol on a permanent basis,” said Orosa.
The city will deploy eight more uniformed officers to patrol the Liberty Square housing project, where there have been 13 drug war shootings in October and November.
“My kids can’t even sleep,” said a woman who asked that we use only her first name, Sapphire. “They don’t even want to sleep at home because there’s shooting all day, every day.”
Another resident welcomed the added marked police presence.
“I think that will be great,” said Lynette Miller, a mother of two. “The kids will be safer and we will be safer as residents in the community.”
The move comes after the city and its former police chief Miguel Exposito came under fire after police shot and killed seven young men, usually during undercover operations. The shootings sparked outrage in Miami’s African-American community. Critics said the undercover operations did little to reduce crime.
Orosa said a highly visible police presence will make an impact.
“Merchants, residents, all they all feel safe when they see a police car,” said Orosa. “And when they don’t, they question their safety.”
Standing in support of Orosa’s shift in policing were Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and City Manager Johnny Martinez.
Orosa is listed as one of the top ten candidates to be named the city’s next police chief. Former chief Miguel Exposito was fired in September on the grounds of insubordination by Martinez. The city manager said Orosa has been open to ideas as to how the department could operate in the future.
“This police chief has been very cooperative with trying to rebalance the force and keep crime down,” said Martinez.
The change in the department’s philosophy comes just days after the U.S. Justice Department announced that it will launch a civil rights investigation into the rash of fatal shootings committed by the department’s officers.