Miami-Dade launches ‘Operation Summer Heat’ to combat gun violence

It calls for more patrol on the streets but also more collaborative monitoring of social media, where authorities say many of these violent encounters are starting.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – They’re calling it “Operation Summer Heat,” and the 12-week initiative puts more boots on the ground — and online — to try and control the sudden spike in gun violence in Miami-Dade County.

Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez describes it as a first-of-its-kind, countywide initiative as shooters jump jurisdictions and commit “belligerent acts of violence ... extravagant acts of brutal killings.”

“I’ve never had to mobilize the entire county,” Ramirez said. “Our other crime initiatives were always for a specific area that was experiencing a trend, a hot spot. ... These bad actors are going across the county.”

Operation Summer Heat calls for stepped-up patrols, including “overtime on extended shifts into our most vulnerable times.”

But another key focus area is online, with enhanced social media monitoring and sharing of intelligence across agencies.

“You see them calling each other out,” Ramirez said, “triggering real-time violence. Back in the 90s it was drug turf wars. There is a little bit of that, but right now it is calling out and acting on it.”

[ALSO SEE: A closer look at Miami-Dade’s multimillion-dollar plan to address gun violence]

The plan does not work, leaders say, without community members having confidence in the process. Police issued a reminder that calls into Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous, and Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo made a plea to refrain from acts of retaliation.

“To the mothers, the brothers, the sisters, the aunts, the cousins of people we are looking for ... let us handle it,” Acevedo said. “The streets shouldn’t dole out justice, it should be the criminal justice system.”

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said starting Thursday they are also launching code enforcement and police strike teams to shut down illegal businesses.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."