DORAL, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida community organization got a hands-on look at the challenges Miami-Dade Police officers experience every day, as part of a training program that the department hopes will strengthen ties with county residents.
For the members of the Circle of Brotherhood in Miami, the use of force training opportunity marks the beginning of a budding partnership to provide a better understanding between law enforcement and the community.
Participants who came together at the Miami-Dade Public Safety Training Institute in Doral, Saturday, were put up against real-life circumstances that officers encounter on a daily basis.
“We do want to leave here with a better understanding of, not only what police go through — the practices, policies and procedures that are in place — so we can better inform our citizens,” said Lyle Muhammad of the Circle of Brotherhood.
Equipped with a gun, ammunition and a Taser, they will decide whether there’s a real threat in each situation.
Miami-Dade Police Sgt. Johanna Franco guided participants through three different situations. “We are going to do a traffic stop scenario, which is basically, daily, what we do,” she said. “We’re going to have a burglary scenario where they’re gonna have to check out a residence that’s been burglarized, and a scenario where there’s a mentally ill person who needs to be Baker Acted and needs assistance,” she said.
Many of the participants ended up firing their weapon during the scenarios to protect themselves. “In a split second, sometimes you have to make a split-second decision,” said one participant.
“From our vantage point, the more we understand the role of the officers, and the more that we can communicate the role of citizens and their rights, the more proactive we can be,” said Muhammad.
Police said the experience is also beneficial for their officers. “This has been great for us,” said Franco. “We get to hear their feedback and their concerns, and we’re able alleviate that with addressing our use of policy and how we handle everyday calls, and what we teach and how we train our officers.”
It’s common ground that Circle of Brotherhood members said will make all the difference in helping to make the community safer. “If that same kind of dialogue and community building can take place in the neighborhoods where people do service, we’ll see a dramatic decrease in confrontations and acts between police and citizens, and citizens and police,” said Muhammad.
Before the hands-on portion of the training, there was a classroom lecture. Participants told 7News said they plan to take everything they learned and share with their families and members of the community.
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