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Opinion
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 5 years ago

Maitland City Talk

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Relief is just a strike team away
by: Bill McEachnie

Our city is struck by a major natural disaster and our law enforcement services are stressed to the breaking point. Our officers have been working for 24 hours straight with no relief in sight. Who will be available to help and how do we obtain that assistance? Here comes the Central Florida Police Chiefs Strike Team to the rescue. Local Central Florida law enforcement agencies have been assisting those towns devastated by hurricanes and other disasters for many years. Local police officers traveled to Homestead after hurricane Andrew destroyed much of the community in 1992. After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the gulf coast in 2005, members of Central Florida municipal law enforcement agencies, including officers from the Maitland Police Department, traveled to Biloxi, Miss., to provide much-needed relief. This strike team concept originated in Orange County and has been adopted statewide, even becoming the model for other states nationwide. The concept is simple but effective — create strike teams consisting of 25 police officers that are ready to respond to a call for assistance with only a 24-hour notice.

These teams must be totally self-sufficient, as many times the areas they respond to for help have no infrastructure or services. This requires the teams to travel with their own communication ability, kitchen, water, tents, cots, many spare tires and even a mechanic to keep the cars rolling. The teams provide much-needed relief for those officers who are exhausted and who many times have lost their own homes in the disaster. The team travels in a convoy, and upon arriving at their destination, they are sworn in as law enforcement officers for the jurisdiction they are assisting. Typically the officers provide routine law enforcement services, such as directing traffic, responding to calls for service and patrolling devastated areas to prevent looting, but at times they are involved with search and rescue efforts.

The strike force teams do not just pick and choose where they will go; there is a very structured method used to request and then deploy the team. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has a seat at the State EOC (emergency operations center) in Tallahassee. When a disaster strikes, a request for assistance is made to the State EOC. The State EOC then makes a formal request for a strike team on behalf of the jurisdiction or state making the request. Once this assistance is approved, the strike team is on its way usually within 24 hours. All funding for salaries, fuel and other expenses are paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The benefit to our police department is that we receive training that will assist us in preparation for a disaster should one strike our city. Many of our officers have had extensive training and experience working a disaster site and are well prepared to assist our residents should disaster strike at home. We also have the knowledge that we too may receive assistance from another jurisdiction or state should we need help. The state has already deployed a strike team to New Jersey, and as I write this column, our department is on standby for deployment to a flooded area of New Jersey to assist local law enforcement in an area that suffered severe damage and flooding along the coastline. We hope we never need assistance but are secure in knowing that should we need it, relief is just a “strike team away.”

— Bill McEachnie

Deputy Chief

Maitland Police Department

City Council Meeting of Nov. 12

The Maitland City Council met on Nov. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers. Below is a synopsis of that meeting.

Special Presentation:

Mayor Schieferdecker and members of Council signed the “Honorable Character Oath.” This oath was originally signed on Aug. 8, 2011, and was resigned to include Councilman Flowers, who was recently appointed to Council.

Consent Agenda – Approved various contracts and purchases.

Decisions Items:

• Ms. Kathy Sandifer was appointed to serve on the Code of Conduct Committee.

• Introduced on first reading an ordinance proposing amendments to the City Charter; and, adopted ballot language and titles for questions to be submitted to a vote of the Electors on March 12, 2013. The Public Hearing date for this ordinance was set for Nov. 26.

• Approved the request for an agreement with the owners of 731, 741 and 751 Lake Catherine Drive to provide a brick roadway in exchange for a 30-foot right-of-way.

• Introduced on first reading the proposed changes to the Shoreline Protection Ordinance, section 8-14 of the City Code and set the Public Hearing date for Nov. 26.

• Accepted the proposed re-design of the Ft. Maitland Police Boathouse and associated waterfront structures at Ft. Maitland Park.

• Directed the city attorney to work on a process to separate impact fees from an existing development (Gem Lake Apartments), as requested by Mr. Dan Bellows, and to make them available on the open market.

To listen to a recording of the meeting, please check our website at itsmymaitland.com

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