charles_hurley_web.jpgMIAMI — The Miami-Dade Schools Police Department (M-DSPD) was recently commended by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) for dramatically decreasing school-related delinquency in Miami-Dade County public schools.

M-DSPD has the distinction of decreasing school-related juvenile delinquency by an impressive 60 percent for the last six months of 2011, which was the largest decline in any school district in the state. The police force is being heralded for adopting effective alternatives to arrest such as civil citations. The M-DSPD has also seen a 35 percent decrease in the amount of referrals to the DJJ.

“Three years ago we set out to create and maintain a police department focused on redefining our role and reaffirming our values through prevention, intervention, enforcement and education. Our mantra is education not incarceration,” said Chief of Schools Police Charles J. Hurley.

M-DSPD has taken a student-centered approach to law enforcement by engaging and helping students and their families. With the assistance of school leadership, involved parents and community stakeholders, the police department has been able to cut student arrests by a remarkable 35 percent.

“I’m extremely proud of our men and women on the police force. It is our intent to demonstrate compassion and understanding to our students and their families when it comes to law enforcement. We have a

student-centered police department first and foremost,” said Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho.

The police department achieved success by employing many strategies including diversion programs, mentoring, policy reform, home visits, truancy sweeps and public support. Through these initiatives, graduation rates and student employability have increased.

Photo: Charles J. Hurley