Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay Take Bite Out Of Crime

Each year, Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade County holds an awards ceremony to honor citizens and police officers who have contributed to the well-being and safety of our communities. This year, on October 5, marked the 37th year for the organization run by the omnipresent and personable Executive Director Carmen Caldwell.

Over the years, Citizens’ Crime Watch has grown to be a major force in organizing neighbors, communities and groups to combat crime. Today, it partners with 28 police departments and over 800,000 concerned citizens throughout Miami-Dade County.

The night began with a cocktail reception where police department personnel and nominated crime watchers spent an hour visiting information booths, talking and spreading even more information about the latest crime prevention methods.

In the crowd were Pinecrest’s new Police Chief Samuel Ceballos and Deputy Chief Peter Skumanich (above). Police officer Peter Judge, police officer Patience Glasko and Commander Greg Truitt represented Palmetto Bay’s policing unit (below).

Inside, nearly 500 people took part in the Awards Ceremony. This year’s Master of Ceremonies was Miami TV personality Brian Andrews. Having been away for five years, he returned to MC and also announced that he was re-joining CBS4, beginning October 8.

Carmen Caldwell assisted throughout and reminded people how important Citizens’ Crime Watch can be, “The minute you educate people and tell them what to do and what not to do, then you know they’re not going to be a victim,” Caldwell said.

The awards presentation was especially rewarding this year for both Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay. Resident Helen Sonenreich of Pinecrest won the Crime Watch Group Chairperson of the Year award and the Officer of the Year award was given to Palmetto Bay’s Officer Peter Judge.

Other winners were Miami-Dade student Crime Watcher of the year Brianna Linden, Cheryl & Richard Sejour for the Citizens Involvement Award, Crime Watcher Janet Masumian from North Miami Beach and Crime Watch Group Leader Awards going to Raquel Batista and Barbara Kraus.

I am especially proud to see Office Peter Judge win.  I have nominated him several years in a row and he had started to call himself the "Susan Lucci" of the Citizens’ Crime Watch Awards.  Palmetto Bay is cheering along with me as we all say CONGRATULATIONS!

(L-R) Councilman Howard Tendrich, Councilman Patrick Fiore, Officer Peter Judge, Officer Patience Glasko, Commander Gregory Truitt and Juan Perez, South Operations Division Chief

Our local County Commissioner, Lynda Bell, helped hand out awards. District 4 County Commissioner Sally Heyman was presented with the Eagle Award for being a long-standing dedicated partner of Citizens’ Crime Watch.

Upon accepting her award, she said, “Crime rates should never dictate the level of resources used to protect citizens.” She also said that Miami-Dade crime rates are currently at levels not seen since the 1960s.

As usual, the night was a rousing success. Caldwell summed it up, “It’s our time to applaud those who do so much to keep our streets safe. Together, we do make a difference. I was especially pleased with the participation of our County commissioners. All in all, a great night!”

As a Neighborhood Watch Group Chairperson, I can attest to the value Citizens’ Crime Watch can bring to a neighborhood.  Besides keeping people safety alert and aware, it organizes them to be the eyes and ears for the police. It also gets people talking, sharing and promotes community.

If you want to form a neighborhood watch or donate to this worthy organization, please visit their website to get started at