Police Chief Resignation

On Monday April 15th, I placed Chief Luis Cabrera on administrative leave after learning of several significant issues with pre-employment background checks involving police department hires.  These issues, based on an initial assessment, led to employees who should have been denied but were hired to work for the Biscayne Park Police Department, thereby exposing BPPD to potential liability.

Over the next few weeks, a review was conducted which uncovered many issues with the administration of the police department.  The summary and full review along with our next steps is available on our website.

Chief Cabrera used his position and authority as Chief to bypass certain background check processes required by our policies and procedures in order to hire individuals who would otherwise be denied employment.  Three of the examples include Benny Lee, Jose Castro, and his Jose’s son Chris Castro.

Benny Lee, during his past employment with other law enforcement agencies, had 12 internal affairs investigations and had been fired by two other local law enforcement agencies.  Chief Cabrera ordered BPPD’s background investigator to clear Mr. Lee for hiring without performing a thorough background investigation. Mr. Lee has since been terminated for improperly removing personal belongings, narcotics, and firearms from BPPD’s evidence room.  A criminal investigation is currently pending regarding Mr. lee’s conduct.

Jose Castro has a lengthy criminal history including assault and battery, domestic assault, a weapons violation, and instances of impersonating a police officer.  Chief Cabrera created a volunteer background investigator position and appointed Mr. Castro to the position.  In addition, he twice sponsored Mr. Castro to the police academy, bypassing the required background checks that would have disqualified him.  Most recently, Mr. Castro identified himself as an off-duty BPPD officer on a 911 call placed while he was working a private security job (not through the Village) due to a trespasser being at the singer Shakira’s home.  Body cam footage shows Mr. Castro holstering his weapon with the subject lying on the ground in front of him as police arrived.

Chris Castro, Jose’s son, was hired despite being terminated from another law enforcement agency and having six internal affairs investigations on his record.  He has since been terminated for failure to complete probation due to multiple issues including mishandling of evidence and receiving several complaints from citizens.

In addition to the above-described circumstances, I have discovered multiple other issues including incomplete personnel files, incomplete training documentation, the complete absence of an inventory management system, a failed evidence management system, and multiple accusations of cronyism.

When presented with this information, Chief Cabrera chose to resign his position with BPPD. 

We are now focused on our next steps and moving forward, starting with the selection of a new Chief.  More information on this process is available on our website.

These situations do not in any way reflect on the good men and women of the police department who protect Biscayne Park on a daily basis.  We have some of the best and most dedicated employees I’ve had the pleasure of working with during my career.  They are the reason our residents enjoy almost zero crime and one of the reasons our residents love living here. 

The Village, our staff, and our residents are resilient.  We will continue to move forward.

Chris Truitt
Village Manager
Village of Biscayne Park

 

 

 

Statement Regarding Chief Cabrera and Administrative Leave

Friends and Neighbors in Biscayne Park; 

As you may have heard by now, I have placed our Chief of Police on administrative leave while we investigate several issues that have been raised.  In accordance with standard procedure, Chief Cabrera has been instructed not to communicate with any members of BPPD or Village staff during this time.  

I did not provide public notification because Florida Statute prohibits the release of any complaint or information obtained from an investigation of the complaint until the matter has been resolved.  In short, we cannot comment on an active investigation. The only information that can be released is the fact that Chief Cabrera is on administrative leave.  Further reason for not providing any notification was that I did not want to potentially tarnish someone’s reputation for concerns that may ultimately be determined to be unfounded. 

I am aware of the past that haunts Biscayne Park Police Department and understand the anxiety that the past situation coupled with the uncertainty of the current situation creates.  However, I would ask that you all trust the process and know that the findings will be fully disclosed when legally permitted to do so. 

We have been working diligently to move the process along as quickly as possible.  Investigations such as this do take time; we need to be as thorough as possible.  During this time, Deputy Chief Mark Steele has been appointed Acting Chief and will continue in that role until our investigation is complete and next steps are identified.  

We hope to have a resolution this week or next and will provide an update at that time.  Until then, it is important to note that the only official information being released at this time is that the Chief is on administrative leave and that Deputy Chief Steele is the acting chief.  Any additional information, including that provided by the media citing inside sources, is purely speculation.

Feel free to reach out to me should you have further questions.

Chris Truitt
Village Manager

4/19/24 - Parks & Parkways Board Vacancies

We need you!  Our Parks and Parkways board currently have several vacancies.  Curious about the Board?

The Parks and Parkways Advisory Board convenes regularly to oversee the preservation and enhancement of our village's natural spaces. Join us on the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Village Hall as we collaborate to ensure the beauty and functionality of our parks and parkways.

Our primary goal is to evaluate the current system of parks and parkways and propose recommendations for their enhancement. We conduct specialized studies and surveys as directed by the Village Manager or Commission to ensure our natural spaces meet the evolving needs of our community.

We'd love to have you join us!  Download, fill out, and return this application to be considered.

4/11/24 - Vulnerability Assessment Next Meeting 7/8 and New Service Requests for Resident Reporting

�� Join Us in Tackling Flood Vulnerability! ��
As we dive into our vulnerability assessment, we're pinpointing flood-prone areas in Biscayne Park, considering scenarios like sea level rise and severe storms. This data-driven process examines elevation and topography to identify potential flood zones accurately. The assessment isn't just a formality—it's crucial for securing funding to implement effective mitigation strategies.

��️ We Want Your Input!
At our recent public meeting, we shared maps and invited residents to mark areas susceptible to flooding. Your feedback helps validate our data and ensures no flood-prone spots are missed. We also asked you to fill out a comment card that shared your firsthand experiences with flooding, suggestions for flood reduction measures, and where you think our focus should be for mitigation efforts.

�� Save the Date for Round Two!
Our next public input session is on 7/8 at 6 pm in the Log Cabin. Can't make it in person? No worries! We've launched two new service requests in our app (www.biscayneparkfl.gov/app) for easy electronic submissions. Look for the Flood Prone Area – Vulnerability Assessment and Comment Cards – Vulnerability Assessment requests to share your thoughts and photos.

⏰ Time Is of the Essence!
We're collecting input until 7/12. Snap photos of flood-prone spots and share details about water levels for Flood Prone Area submissions. For Comment Cards, simply answer our three questions. Your input will inform and confirm our analysis.

�� No App? No Problem!
Prefer email? Send your info and photos with descriptions to villagemanager@biscayneparkfl.gov.

Let's work together to fortify Biscayne Park against flooding!

4/10/24 - Election Results

����️ Exciting News, Neighbors! ��️��

The unofficial election results for Biscayne Park are here! Out of our 1985 registered voters, 347 (that's 17.48%) participated in this important civic duty.

Here's a breakdown of the votes:

Ryan Huntington: 272 (78.84%)
Dan Samaria: 55 (15.94%)
Carlos Manuel Trejo Pereira: 18 (5.22%)

Big shoutout to everyone who cast their votes! Every voice matters.

Next steps: The Canvassing Board, consisting of the Clerk and Manager, will officially certify the results this Friday. Once the results are certified, our new Commissioner will be sworn in within 10 days.

Exciting times ahead for Biscayne Park! �� Let's stay engaged and keep our community thriving.

[Check out the detailed results here: https://enr.electionsfl.org/DAD/3576/Summary/]

4/9/24 - Bomb Threat UPDATE

Please steer clear of the vicinity around 9401 Biscayne Blvd. (south of Biscayne Park). Our local law enforcement is currently aiding Miami Shores with a reported bomb threat in the area. Stay safe and avoid the area until further notice.

 

UPDATE: the area is now open.

4/9/24 - Traffic Detour Alert

Heads up! There's a detour happening at the intersection of 107th and 9th, which is funneling all traffic into our Village. To ensure safety and prevent traffic violations, we've got three officers stationed nearby with their emergency lights on. Let's all drive safely and follow the rules of the road!

4/9/24 - Election Day

Don't forget, neighbors! It's election day today! The Rec Center will be open until 7 pm exclusively for voting purposes. After-care is still happening outside, but there won't be any other programs today to ensure smooth and easy voting. Let's make our voices heard!

4/2/24 - UPDATED Regular Commission Meeting Info

Updated Agenda: https://biscayneparkfl.granicus.com/AgendaViewer.php?view_id=1&event_id=178

Join Zoom Meeting
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Meeting ID: 882 5878 4428
Passcode: 8998000

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Where in the Village Week Two

3/22/24 - Where in the Village

Attention Biscayne Park Neighbors! 

 

Big applause to Alixandra for clinching the victory in this week's 'Where in BP' photo contest!

 

Join the Excitement: Let's Play 'Where in the Village' and Bag Prizes!

 

It's time to kick off the second week of our thrilling ‘Where in the Village’ competition specially designed for Biscayne Park residents!

 

For the next three weeks, we're going to share a captivating photo taken somewhere within our picturesque neighborhood right here on NextDoor, our website, and of course, on our convenient app.

 

Participating is a breeze! Simply use our new app's ‘Where in the Village’ service request feature to take a guess at the photo's location! Every week, one fortunate resident with the correct answer will be randomly chosen to win an awesome BP-branded water bottle, carabiner key chain, or pen – take your pick! Remember, this contest is exclusively for Biscayne Park residents.

 

To throw your hat in the ring, ensure you've set up a free account on the app, complete with your address, phone, and email details. Here's how you can jump in on the fun:

 

Get the app from Google Play or Android (www.biscayneparkfl.gov/app). 1 - Open the app and tap ‘Start Request’. 2 - Scroll down to 'Administration' and select 'Where in the Village'. 3 - Hit ‘Make Request’ to get started. If you don't have a photo to add, simply tap ‘Skip’ in the upper right corner. 4 - Let the app pinpoint your location (this confirms you're in Biscayne Park) and tap ‘Done’. 5 - Describe your guess of the photo's location in the provided box and tap ‘Submit Request’.

 

And there you have it! You're now in the running for a chance to win. Keep your eyes peeled for the winner announcement, along with a fresh photo, next Friday on the app, website, and right here on NextDoor! Let the guessing games commence! 

 

 

 

 

3/21/24 - Upcoming Storms

Greetings Neighbors, It's important to stay informed about the upcoming weather forecast for our area. According to the latest reports, we anticipate receiving 3-5 inches of rain over the next few days, accompanied by wind gusts reaching speeds of 30-40 miles per hour. While these conditions may cause concern, it's worth noting that our community has a history of handling such weather patterns well.

Typically, we can manage rainfall of up to 6 inches or more during a storm, depending on its intensity. Similarly, periodic wind gusts up to 50mph usually don't pose signifaicant issues. However, it's essential to remain vigilant and prepared. Our approach to weather events involves proactive preparation and vigilant monitoring.

Firstly, we focus on preparation by ensuring our storm drains are clear to minimize potential flooding. Secondly, we maintain constant communication with the Police Department, who provide real-time updates on any issues or hazards they observe on the ground. Our Manager coordinates with relevant authorities 24/7 to deploy necessary resources promptly, with Public Works standing by for assistance.

Additionally, our Manager stays in close contact with the Mayor to address any current or potential issues that may arise. Depending on the severity of the forecasted storm, Public Works and our Manager may be deployed to specific areas within Biscayne Park to handle any emergent situations effectively.

Here's how you can prepare:

Download Our New App : Stay informed with emergency updates pushed directly to your mobile device. Please note that information on our website and social media platforms may not be updated immediately during emergencies.

Check Your Storm Drains: Ensure that storm drains in your vicinity are clear of any blockages. If you notice any issues, report them via our app so that Public Works can address them promptly.

Report Flooding: During the event, use our app to report any instances of flooding you encounter. Your reports play a crucial role in our efforts to mitigate vulnerabilities and enhance community resilience.

By working together and staying informed, we can effectively navigate through this weather event and ensure the safety and well-being of our community.

Thank you for your cooperation and stay safe!

3/18/24 - Action Needed for $425k Storm Drain Project Funding

Earlier this year, I requested an $800,000 appropriation from the legislature to fund upcoming phases of our storm drain projects.

 

Unfortunately, the legislature greenlit only $425,000. Our dedicated lobbyist fought tooth and nail to preserve as much funding as possible, but now it's in the hands of the Governor for approval.

 

Here's where you come in. Can I ask you to spare a moment and send the following letter to State Budget Director Chris Spencer (chris.spencer@laspbs.state.fl.us), Environmental Policy Coordinator Kimberly Cramer (kim.cramer@laspbs.state.fl.us), and Erin Riley (erin.riley@laspbs.state.fl.us)?

 

The louder our community's voice, the stronger our chance of securing the necessary funding. Your support truly matters in making a difference.

Thank you for being such fantastic neighbors!

 

------------------------------

 

Dear Governor DeSantis, Mr. Spencer, Ms. Cramer, and Ms. Riley;

 

I write to you as a concerned resident of Biscayne Park, urgently requesting your support for the funding allocated in appropriation 1732A for the Biscayne Park Storm Drain Installation Phases IB, II, and III (HF 1271, SF 1178) in the amount of $425,000.00. While our initial request was for $800,000, we are grateful for every penny that can be allocated towards this vital project.

 

Biscayne Park, a community comprising approximately 3,000 residents within less than 1 square mile in Miami-Dade County, is consistently plagued by flooding issues. Unlike our neighboring areas, our municipality is entirely residentially zoned and lacks the necessary tax base to fund comprehensive stormwater mitigation initiatives.

 

During significant rainfall events, many of our roads become impassable, and numerous residents experience flooding in their yards. Compounding this issue is the fact that we rely entirely on septic systems; flooding in yards poses a significant risk of overwhelming these systems, potentially leading to environmental hazards for Biscayne Bay, located just a short distance away down the canal forming part of our border.

 

The proposed appropriation would enable us to advance the next three phases of a six-phase project aimed at installing storm drains in the most flood-prone areas. These drains are essential for managing floodwaters during major events. Already, we have witnessed the benefits of phase IA, with included areas experiencing improved drainage, thus mitigating the severity of flooding events. Our aim is to implement the remaining phases over the coming years, and state funding is critical to achieving this goal.

 

I implore you to lend your support to this crucial appropriations request. By investing in our storm drain installation project, you will not only alleviate the immediate flooding issues faced by our community but also contribute to the long-term resilience and sustainability of Biscayne Park.

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter and for your anticipated support.

 

Sincerely, [Your Name] Resident of Biscayne Park

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3/15/24 - Commissioner Steinberg Visits for Traffic Issues

�� Important Neighborhood Update ��‍♂️�� Dear Neighbors, Today was an exciting day for our Village as we welcomed Miami-Dade County Commissioner Micky Steinberg and her team, along with representatives from MDC Transportation. Joining them were the Mayor, our Chief, Deputy Chief, Detective, and myself as we toured several critical intersections in our neighborhood.

Together, we visited 6th and 121st, 6th and Griffing, and 107th and 9th, discussing actionable strategies to improve safety for both drivers and pedestrians. Additionally, we had fruitful discussions regarding the Interlocal Agreement (ILA), confirming that we have the flexibility to implement several measures on internal streets without county approval. Our legal team is actively working with BP leadership and Miami-Dade County to finalize the ILA. More updates on this will follow soon!

Meanwhile, I encourage you to utilize our new app to request traffic calming measures. By opening a new request, navigating to 'traffic', and selecting 'request a traffic calming device', you contribute to our efforts in prioritizing future projects and safety measures. Let's continue collaborating to enhance the safety of our neighborhood for everyone's benefit!

 

3/15/24 - Play 'Where in the Village' and Win Prizes!

 Hey neighbors! Today marks the beginning of our exciting ‘Where in the Village’ contest for Biscayne Park residents! Over the next four weeks, we'll be sharing a photo taken somewhere in beautiful Biscayne Park right here on NextDoor, our website, and within our handy app.

To participate, simply utilize our brand new app’s ‘Where in the Village’ service request feature to guess where the photo was snapped! Each week, one lucky resident with the correct answer will be randomly selected to win a fantastic BP-branded water bottle, carabiner key chain, or pen – your pick!

This contest is exclusively for Biscayne Park residents. To be eligible to win, make sure you've set up a free account on the app, including your address, phone, and email details. Here's how to join the fun: First, get the app on Google Play or Android (www.biscayneparkfl.gov/app).

 
Open the app and tap ‘Start Request’.
1 - Scroll down to 'Administration' and select 'Where in the Village'.
2 - Hit ‘Make Request’ to begin. You can skip adding a photo by tapping ‘Skip’ in the upper right corner.
3 - Let the app pinpoint your location (this confirms you're in Biscayne Park) and tap ‘Done’.
4 - Describe your guess of the photo's location in the provided box and tap ‘Submit Request’.
 
And that's all it takes! You're now entered for a chance to win. Keep an eye out for the winner announcement, along with a fresh photo, next Friday on the app, website, and on NextDoor! Let the guessing games begin! ��

 

 

2/28/24 - POSTPONED Public Input Meeting for Vulnerability Assessment

Biscayne Park in conjunction with our engineering firm Kimley-Horn is hosting a public input meeting for our vulnerability assessment (VA).  The VA is designed to identify areas of Biscayne Park that are vulnerable to flooding and then recommend mitigation strategies.  This work is being paid for primarily with a $100,000 grant ($25,000 village match) from the Department of Environmental Protection's Resilient Florida Grant Program.

 

Residents are encouraged to share their experience with flooding in the Village during the meeting which will be scheduled for mid-March.

2/12/24 - MCDS Community Meeting

A Message from MCDS:

Dear Neighbors,

As some of you might know, Miami Country Day School is seeking approval of a new entitlement that gives the school permission to reconfigure the traffic circulation within the school’s property by building a surface parking lot in front of our garage which will significantly reduce traffic on the surrounding roadways. This reconfiguration of the traffic circulation addresses current traffic issues and contemplates increased future enrollment.

 We would like to inform you of our plans at a Community Meeting on February 12th at 6:30. We will meet on campus in Smurfit Hall. We ask that you park on 107th Street and enter through that gate. We will inform you on our plans and answer any questions you may have. We will have our architects. Legal team, and traffic consultants presenting. 

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2/8/24 - Crime Map August 2023 to January 2024

A lot of community focus has been on traffic issues recently, especially since the recent fatal accident.  We'd like to take this opportunity to share some of the other focuses we have, such as prevention of crime. This map (taken from https://www.crimemapping.com/map/fl/miami-dadecounty) shows violent crimes in our area from August 2023 to January 2024.

 

One of the main benefits of having a proactive, local police department is a crime rate of effectively zero.  Our command staff and officers spend all day every day keeping us safe.