Citizens United Against Crime

On the evening of January 20, the Palmetto Bay Village Voice put on a community outreach event to address the issue of rising home burglaries.  Nearly 75 concerned citizens came out to the Palmetto Bay Village Center to hear about ways to protect themselves against crime.

The main speaker, Carmen Caldwell (Executive Director of Citizens' Crime Watch of Miami-Dade), talked about how blocks and communities can significantly improve the effectiveness of their police department(s) by being their eyes and ears.  Police Commander Greg Truitt concurred, “Having 26,000 residents’ eyes watching are far better than my 40 police officers.”

Standing: Carmen Caldwell (Executive Director of Citizens' Crime Watch of Miami-Dade), Peter England (Chairman, Palmetto Bay Village Voice), Shelley Stanczyk (Mayor, Village of Palmetto Bay)

Besides the host Village of Palmetto Bay, residents came from many South Dade communities, including Kendall’s Fernanda Katz-Junkins.  Fernanda runs a Citizens’ Crime Watch group with nearly 90 homes involved.  She astutely addressed the audience in saying, “Your best security is an alert neighbor.”

Here are some great tips and facts YOU can use to protect yourself:

  • Most home burglaries occur weekdays between 8am – 1pm because this is when most people are not at home.
  • If you are a dog owner, keep your dogs inside when you are away.  This way an intruder can’t entice them with a nice steak to keep them busy.
  • An audible home alarm instantly alerts neighbors.  One that calls the police through a monitoring service takes about 9 MINUTES before anyone is alerted. Enough time for the criminal to be long gone.
  • Lighting and easy to see street address numbers at night are great crime deterrents.
  • Signs (like dog on premises, alarm system or Citizens’ Crime Watch block) are very helpful in crime prevention.
  • Never let someone selling magazines or collecting money for any cause into your home for any reason.  They are likely casing the home for robbery.
  • Do not update your Facebook status telling people you are away on vacation.  Wait until you get home to show where you have been.

One of the biggest points made by Caldwell was that you should call the police for even the slightest concern.  “Let the police determine a course of action.  But they can’t act if they don’t know.”  For crimes in progress, call 9-1-1.  For concerns or observations, call 305-4-POLICE (305-476-5423).

After showing a 7-minutes video underscoring how people usually are unaware or ignore crimes occurring right in front of them, Caldwell urged the audience to form a Citizens’ Crime Watch group for their area.  The idea is that once people are thinking about protecting their neighbor, they tend to keep their eyes open.  I should know, I run a Citizens’ Crime Watch group and it really works.

Peter England (Chairman, Palmetto Bay Village Voice), Carmen Caldwell (Executive Director of Citizens' Crime Watch of Miami-Dade), Gregory Truitt (Commander, Palmetto Bay Police), Hal Feldman (that's me!), Fernanda Katz-Junkins (Block Captain, Kendall Citizens’ Crime Watch) and Howard Tendrich (Councilman, Palmetto Bay District 2).

Peter England reports that 15 people signed up that night to start their own group. To get involved, call Citizens’ Crime Watch at 305-470-1670 or go to