MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Miami-Dade Police, who are working hard to make streets a little safer this holiday season, took part in a narcotics bust in Northwest Miami-Dade but that’s not all.
The sweep, called Operation Santa’s Helper, led to the arrest of 112 people and the confiscation of three firearms. But this drug sweep wasn’t just about reducing crime, it was also about getting kids in the neighborhood to see police officers in a different light, to see the human side of the officers who love to interact with children and the good citizens of the community.
Friday morning, officers from the Tactical Narcotics Team (TNT) held a toy giveaway for children and they were joined by the family of fallen Miami-Dade police officer Roger Castillo, who was killed in the line of duty in January.
Debbie Castillo spoke out for the first time since her husband and fellow officer Amanda Haworth were shot and killed on January 20th in Miami while trying to arrest a career criminal.
Castillo, who is also a narcotics officer, and her three children, Anthony, 16, Michael, 13, and Bryan, 10, helped pass out toys to needy kids in an area that is not far from where Roger Castillo was shot and killed.
“I just wanted them to see, in spite of everything, how fortunate they are,” said Debbie Castillo. She told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “I am very proud of my kids. I’m excited. I just wanted to make my kids smile.”
Asked by D’Oench if sometimes people take for granted what they have in life, Castillo responded, “Yes, I think we do.”
Castillo has been with Miami-Dade Police for nearly 18 years. D’Oench asked her, “You care about the people out there?” And she responded, “Yes, I do. We do.”
D’Oench asked her how difficult it has been being a full-time officer and being a dedicated mother to her three kids. She smiled and laughed and said, “I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
When asked about Operation Santa’s Helper, she replied, “It just means we do our job, we have to do our job but we care and that’s what we’re going to try and show everybody today.”
Castillo also had thanks for others.
“Just thank you to all of the community for the support they gave us in the beginning of the year and happy holidays. The support has been wonderful. I am overwhelmed and thankful.”
Her son Anthony enjoyed pitching in as well.
“My mom wanted to show us how fortunate we are for what we have and to give back to the community,” said Anthony. “It feels good, it feels really good. I like to help people.”
Her son also told D’Oench, “It feels good to know I am helping people. I want them to know they are appreciated and you know we care.”
Major Charles Nanney of the Narcotics, Gangs and Organized Crime Narcotics Bureau of Miami-Dade Police told D’Oench that Debbie Castillo “wanted to come out and show her boys that despite the worst year of their life, they are very fortunate for what they have. She also wanted them to see that most people that live here are good people. It was an individual that killed their father and not the community.”
The gift giveaway also involved students from the Pinewood Acres School in Southwest Miami-Dade. Director Jennifer Lones said the school contributed 203 gifts to the effort and she was very proud of her school and her students.
Those receiving the gifts were overjoyed and some squealed with delight, as they received the gifts. “I feel very happy,” several children at one apartment complex said in unison.
“This is excellent, excellent,” said David Dean. “Why is it excellent?” asked D’Oench. “Because I always want toys for Christmas,” Dean said.
Mothers were ecstatic too.
“I think this is a good idea,” said Tiffany Marion. “Some of these children don’t have toys.”