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Park Watch Program
Miami-Dade Parks is dedicated to ensuring that each of our patrons has an enjoyable as well as safe experience when visiting our parks and facilities and participating in our programs and special events.
On this site, Park Watch, you will find invaluable information on safety in public parks and places. Please carefully read and share this information with your family and friends.
- Park Safety
- Safety Tips
- Child Safety Tips
- Stranger Safety Tips for Children
- Protect Yourself Against Theft
What is Park Watch?
Park Watch is a crime prevention program for your neighborhood park. Like a neighborhood crime watch, it helps provide youths, adults and senior citizens with information to eradicate crime, drugs and gangs from our parks. You are the solution; your eyes and ears are a valuable crime prevention tool.Back to Top
How does Park Watch Work?
Because residents know their community parks best, they are better to spot strangers who are acting suspicious or situations that “just don’t look right.” A concerned community can stop crime by simply reporting crime in the making to the police or park officials. By getting to know your parks and practicing a few rules and safety tips that we provide for you, can make for a safe and enjoyable experience.
For more information on joining or establishing a Park Watch in your neighborhood park, contact the park manager’s office or call the Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department Security Office at 305-278-5197.
Park Watch Volunteers
Park Watch Volunteers, in essence, “adopt” their facilities. They are cognizant of the activities that occur within those facilities and further serve as the “eyes and ears” for both, Miami-Dade Parks and the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Each Miami-Dade Parks facility — whether “manned” (meaning that it has park staff assigned on-site) or not — has a Park Manager that is directly responsible for it. These individuals are the point of contact in the Park Watch network. They coordinate the activities of the Park Watch volunteers.
- Do not workout alone
- Advise someone of your workout times and route taken and check in with them when finished
- Do not workout in deserted or dark areas
- Have several different routes and rotate them
- Check your workout route before you start
- Avoid bushes, doorways and alleys during your workout
- Plan safe locations on your route, well-populated areas where you can go to for help
- Do not carry large amounts of cash or jewelry
- Do carry personal identification and an emergency contact phone number
- Carry a whistle or some type of noise-making device
- Stay alert and scan the area in front of you and avoid person(s) or situations that make you feel uneasy
- Be careful when people stop you for directions. Always reply from a distance and never get too close to a vehicle
- If you think someone is following you, change directions or go to your safe location
- Carry a cellular phone when possible
Child Safety Tips
Straight talk with children works best when discussing the serious topic of personal safety. Do not rely completely on puppets, coloring books, gimmicks and cartoon characters.
- Instill in your children a sense of self-worth and dignity at every opportunity.
- Teach your children basic sex education (i.e., the areas of the body that are covered by a bathing suit are private).
- Establish that inappropriate touches are against the law. This gives your children confidence to assert themselves with those who try to abuse them.
- Allow children to express affection on their terms. Do not instruct them to give kisses or hugs to people they do not know well.
- Stress that there should be no secrets from you, especially those involving another adult.
- Explain the importance of reporting abuse or attempted abuse to a “Trusted Adult.” This would also apply to inappropriate touching.
- Do not rely entirely on “The Buddy System.” In many documented cases, sisters, brothers and playmates have been victims of terrible crimes when together.
- Make it a priority to get to know your children’s friends and their families.
- Encourage involvement in extracurricular activities. Children with many interests are less likely to experiment with drugs or other negative influences.
- Teach your children to respect, admire and celebrate the differences in people.
- Ask questions about what your children are doing, where they are going and whom they will be with.
- “Set Times” to be home or check in. Have a back-up plan.
- A child’s room should not be considered his/hers private, personal domain where parents are not allowed to check them.
- Above all, encourage your children to recognize, trust and follow their instincts about people and situations. Listen to their instincts.
Stranger Safety Tips for Children
People that you do not know very well can mean danger. You may meet these people anywhere, e.g., street, store, movie theater, playground.
Safety Rules for Dealing with Strangers:
- Never talk to a stranger.
- Never go near a stranger.
- Never accept gifts or rides from a stranger.
- If a stranger comes toward you, step backwards, turn around and run away.
- Never go anywhere with a stranger.
- Report strangers to your parents, teachers, bus drivers, or a responsible adult that you know well.
Protect Yourself Against Theft
Theft can happen at any time….even while at the park. Don’t be a victim!
When faced with any theft situation, your goal is to avoid being injured! There is nothing in your purse or wallet that is worth serious injury or death.
Is it absolutely necessary to carry a purse at all times? A wallet or credit card in a pocket would be less tempting.
- Carry only the amount of cash or credit cards that you need
- Eliminate spare keys from purse
- Carry purse or shoulder bag in front of you and close to your body
- Avoid having your purse shoulder straps around your neck or looped around your wrist
- Zip or close purse securely to avoid purses pickpockets
If you park your vehicle in a parking lot at a park (or otherwise), do not leave your purse or anything else of value visible or “out in the open.”Back to Top
How to Report a Crime
To report a fire, a medical emergency, or a crime in progress, call 9-1-1!
Before you call, gather all the facts that you can, and then write them down so that you will not forget them. Take a second look; a minute gathering more complete information may be worth the delay. A tag number is great, if you can spot it, and a report that the vehicle had a ladder on top or a dented left fender is more useful than simply describing the vehicle as a “white van.” You want to be able to answer the usual who, what, where, when and how questions, or as many of these as you can.
When calling in a crime or emergency, take your time and speak clearly and concisely. There are five 9-1-1 centers in Miami-Dade County, and your call will be routed to the one serving the area from which you are calling.
- Determining Priority: When you call to report an incident, the complaint officer will ask you whether you have a true emergency. If you are reporting a fire, a medical emergency, or a crime in progress, the answer is “Yes.” If you are simply reporting a “suspicious person” or a vehicle that seems to be cruising in the area and does not look right, the answer is “No.” They will handle your report, but will respond to the emergency calls first.
- Stay on the Line: The complaint officer will ask you a number of questions which are necessary prior to sending a police officer. Be patient and provide whatever information is requested.
- To Report a Non-Emergency: If you are in the unincorporated areas of Miami-Dade County, call (305) 4 – POLICE (305-476-5423).
- Notify Park Personnel: When the time is available, make sure to notify the park office or the nearest park employee of the incident.
If you are reporting a suspicious vehicle or person, or a vehicle was broken into and the suspects fled the area, you are in fact dealing with a crime that may be committed in the future or a crime that has already been committed. These are not Crimes in Progress, do not call ‘9-1-1’. Call (305) 4-POLICE for these types of incidents.
- Trust Your Instincts: You know when something doesn’t look right. You may not know why, but somehow it is out of character and arouses your suspicion. Call it in! The police would rather respond to nine false alarms than miss the tenth one, which is real.
How to Describe a Person
Depending on the situation and considering your personal safety, take a good look at the suspect, so that you will be better able to describe the suspect later. Here are some of the things to look for and to report upon:
- Sex, Race, Complexion, Age
- Height(estimate in 2 inch blocks; for example 5’8” and 5’10”)
- Weight (estimate in blocks of 10 pounds, for example 130 to 140 pounds)
- Build – large, medium, small, stocky, fat, slender, or thin, plus any distinguishing features on parts of the body (tattoos, eyeglasses, etc.)
- Hair – color, think or thin, balding or full, sideburns
- Mustache or beard – describe including color
- Clothing – type, color, style (start at top and work down: hat, coat shirt, pants, shoes)
- Method of escape
Example: Male, white, approximately 45 years old, between 5 foot 6 and 5 foot 8, 150 – 160 pounds, medium build, gray hair, and long sideburns. Wearing a blue baseball cap, no coat, white shirt, dark pants and sneakers. Escaped at 1st Street and Meridian Avenue and headed toward the Flamingo Park area.Back to Top
How to Describe a Vehicle
It is also important to be attentive to the details of vehicles. Try to make note of the following features and report them:
- Color, make, and year
- Body type – sedan, two-door, convertible, station wagon
- License number (specific state)
- Other identification – exterior attachments, damage, bumper stickers, window decals, etc.
Example: A black, late model Plymouth, four-door sedan, Florida license number ABC 333, large dent on rear passenger door, and Florida Marlins decal on rear window.
The guidelines above are primarily for stationary vehicles. On occasion, you may have to describe moving vehicles, perhaps escaping from the scene of an incident. Try to note the following:
- Color, make, year, and Tag (as above)
- Direction of Travel
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