BY RODOLFO ROMAN, SPECIAL TO THE MIAMI HERALD, APRIL 22, 2014
Sweetwater police say a new bicycle patrol unit has cut crime at the Dolphin Mall.
At this month’s City Commission meeting, Police Chief Jesus Menocal said the mall has seen a 60 percent reduction in crime in the last four months, compared to the same period a year earlier.
“We had reductions in vehicle burglaries and auto theft,” he said in a phone interview. “It discourages people to do crime because of the visibility.”
The police department has designated 10 officers on bikes to patrol the parking lot.
Dolphin Mall general manager Pete Marrero says he is thankful for the crime reduction.
“We highly value our relationship with the city of Sweetwater and the Police Department,” he wrote in an email. “We have a very strong working relationship and are grateful for their continued support of Dolphin Mall.”
Since he took over as chief last year, Menocal has been a big supporter of incorporating community policing.
There is a bike patrol unit also assigned to condo associations.
With a new IKEA furniture retailer coming to the area soon, Menocal said he is preparing to boost the department’s presence. He said the department has applied for a Florida Department of Law Enforcement grant worth $6,310, which would help pay the costs of about 11 new bicycles and other equipment.
“My goal is to be pro active not reactive,” Menocal said. “We want people to have a good experience as we work in partnership with the mall.”