BY RODOLFO ROMAN
SPECIAL TO THE MIAMI HERALD, NOVEMBER 15, 2013
Sweetwater’s new Interim Police Chief Jesse Menocal has wasted no time in implementing new strategies to combat crime in the city.
Menocal was appointed to the position after Roberto Fulgueira retired last month. Menocal said he is working on several projects to help the community.
Police officers are riding bicycles and horses and walking on foot.
The city currently has two horses, which were recently put on patrol for Halloween. The police department’s “Pumpkin Patrol” was aimed at protecting trick-or-treaters.
The operation closed off streets, and trick-or-treaters had officer escorts.
“Horses are used for special events,” said Menocal in a phone interview. “We also do from 15 to 20 demonstrations at different schools throughout Miami-Dade County for career day.”
The interim chief has also equipped 10 officers with bicycles, which are put to use seven days a week.
“The bikes are effective because they can go through parking lots,” he said. “The officers are more mobile.”
Menocal’s goal is to double the number of officers on bicycles by next year to help out when the large home-furnishing retailer IKEA opens near Dolphin Mall.
Currently, the city has about 160 officers, which include full- and part-timers and reserve officers.
Other methods in place are foot patrols.
“They are uniformed, friendly officers,” he said. “They are in different areas like shopping centers and condos. They will see the officers as friendly assets.”
Menocal also said he is working on getting about 10 officers certified to drive all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs.
He also wants to boost awareness among businesses and the elderly. He wants the police department to host meetings to hear issues and concerns from those who work and live in the city.