Recently I addressed the Officers of the El Portal Police Department after I read something from the social media neighborhood hub, Next Door. In the posting was a concern regarding rising crime while it tied in our need for more cars and an opinion that part-timers don’t want to come out and work due to the vehicles’ condition. In the same post was a swipe taken at Councilperson Vimari Roman (regarding cars) and Village Manager Christia Alou (regarding a recent impasse).
What I told my officers, I shall relay to you as well: While there are some very-well meaning citizens looking out for the betterment of the police department there are also some who have ulterior motives and will merely ride the badge and uniform of the police department in order to convey their message ( whatever that may be). I will have none of that. I saw something ugly and I want to put an end to it now because experience tells me this will only get progressively worse as time goes on particularly as November draws closer.
The El Portal Police Department cannot be allowed to get mired down into the swamps of social media innuendo, attacks, and defamatory statements. And while it may have been common-place in the past to walk such a tight-rope, I am here to tell you, it stops under my watch.
Our function is to provide quality, professional law enforcement to all the citizenry we serve. It most certainly is not our job to immerse ourselves in issues as they play out on social media by those looking to create a maelstrom of borderline treachery.
Yes, there is equipment and personnel that we need. Yes, I am very supportive for my personnel to get increases in their pay, and I will continue to advocate for both; but there are proper avenues to achieve that. Sometimes these avenues are met with success. Sometimes they are not, for a multitude of reasons. It will not be achieved by lobbying people for support who then take to the anonymity of social media instead of voicing concerns in person (or ZOOM) at Council meetings. Quite frankly, I would hope all people support their police department with no strings attached. But it is also something we must earn each and every day.
The Village of El Portal Council and Mayor Cubillos, support the police department. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Since I became police chief in May 2019, with that support came, immediate and sustainable successes such as a fully developed rank structure with a commanding officer and two sergeants offered greater supervision and responsibility enabling a path for upward mobility. Additionally, the implementation of take-home police vehicles (though developed prior to my arrival) came to fruition. Training is also a paramount concern and officers (pre-COVID) have been able to better themselves professionally.
Much of McGrath Report has been achieved. We are getting audited and passing them with flying colors. Policies have been established, revised, and disseminated. All officers are within FDLE for their certifications. The officers have been doing an outstanding job.
There was a directive placed upon me when I became chief of police to bring excellence and stability to this police department after a previous tumultuous time span. During the last fourteen months the Village Council, Mayor, and I have occasionally strategized in tackling a number of issues ranging from missing persons investigations to speeders to collaborations with Miami-Dade County to combat gun fire that was having an effect on El Portal residents. This collaboration will continue.
Equally important, open communication and information sharing has been enhanced greatly with the community. Crime Watch meetings have taken place and most recently new blocks are looking to get on board. Block Captains have been a major source of important information dissemination. During recent times of COVID and area protests, this information sharing has been invaluable. Informative articles in the Peacock Express have kept the community apprised of important information.
In other words, there is much to be proud of. No police department can ever rest on their laurels. There is much more to do. Occasionally, adjustments must be made to correct things that can be done better. But what will get us there is our unwavering commitment to continuously remain true to our mission statement.
That is exactly why, I will not allow the El Portal Police Department to revert to the ways that may have previously driven a wedge between various segments of the community who just do not agree on certain issues. We are here to serve everyone whether we agree with their opinions or not. The police must not fall prey to the venomous and rather spineless anonymous attacks that are about as welcome as a hurricane season. While we cannot control that which is spewed on social media, we must fully realize it certainly is not our job to jump into the fray and help formulate or steer that opinion. We must avoid it like the plague.
In the end, it will be our professionalism and respect for all, via our actions, that will serve us best.
That is my commitment to you as chief of police.
Chief of Police
El Portal Police Department