MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The men and women who keep Miami-Dade County and its municipalities safe gathered for the 37th Annual Citizens’ Crime Watch Awards Ceremony Friday night.

Attendance was not limited to people in uniform.

Surrounded by supporters, Barbara Kraus was surprised she took home the award for Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade County Chairperson of the Year.

“It means a lot considering what I’ve been going through for the last year. I didn’t even think I’d be able to continue to do this,” Kraus said.

A South Florida native, Kraus is a retired nurse who now spends much of her time focused on keeping her homestead neighborhood safe.

“For people to think I’m doing a great job, it’s heartwarming,” Kraus explained.

As she wages a public war on crime, Kraus is fighting a much more private battle with ovarian cancer.

She goes to crime watch meetings after her chemotherapy treatments, managing to inspire everyone she meets along the way.

“Talk about a selfless woman to have such a significant medical issue personally, but still she’s willing to engage to promote safety,” Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman said.

Commissioner Heyman has been a supporter of Citizens’ Crime Watch for all of its 37 years.

Heyman’s background in criminal justice and law enforcement made her an obvious choice for the keynote speaker at the event.

Other winners at the 37th Annual Citizens’ Crime Watch awards ceremony included a student, a principal and several officers. The director of the program, Carmen Caldwell, believes the diversity of the winners proves cooperation is key when it comes to protecting our streets.

“The minute you educate people and you tell them what to do and what not to do, then you know they’re not going to be a victim,” Caldwell said.

She encouraged residents to call police whenever they see something that seems out of place in their community.

Caldwell said working together is the only way to combat crime.

And for Kraus, it’s that type of built in support system she treasures most.

“The neighbors used to see the police officer stop by and they would think something is wrong,” Kraus said. “Now they know the officer is just visiting to make sure Barbara is OK.”

While Citizens’ Crime Watch has the support of Miami-Dade County and the municipalities it serves, it still needs your help.

Visit to learn how to donate.


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