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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Meet Commander Mike Gonzalez

10 With Tom 
10 questions in 10 minutes 

As you know, we have a new Police Commander named Mike Gonzalez. I spent some time with him the other night at a party and he's a great, fun guy. I thought it would be nice to do a 10 With Tom with him, so as to introduce him to the community. 

TOM: Welcome to the Grove Commander, do you have any special plans for Coconut Grove?

Commander Mike Gonzalez
COMMANDER: My plans as the Police Commander for the Grove is to continue where my predecessor left off. Major Manny Morales lead our team to TWO consecutive years of double digit decreases in crime and we managed to complete a third year with an additional 3% drop. Our primary and most important goal is to eliminate gunfire from Coconut Grove, period. While we have enjoyed crime reductions, there has still been gun violence in the Village West area, and putting an end to that violence is our top priority for 2017. Additionally, I intend to build upon the outstanding community partnerships that Major Morales has established. These partnerships are critical to our success in solving as well as preventing crimes. I firmly believe that police are here to serve our residents, ALL of our residents. I insist that our police team approach every citizen contact always asking ourselves the question “How can we help?” A customer service attitude is our policy in Coconut Grove and everyone is our “customer."

TOM: Where are you coming from? What neighborhood before Coconut Grove?

COMMANDER: I was the Commander of the Traffic Enforcement Unit based out of the Specialized Operations Section of the Miami Police Department. Coconut Grove is my first “neighborhood” assignment. During my career I have worked in Road Patrol, Bicycle Patrol, Motorcycle Officer, S.W.A.T. as both an officer and Team Leader, Marine Patrol and Underwater Recovery, and Traffic Enforcement.

TOM: Are you familiar with the Grove? What do you like about it?

COMMANDER: I was born and raised in Miami and spent many years visiting Coconut Grove and nearby areas. I was assigned to the Marine Patrol Detail as a supervisor for  several years and had the opportunity to work extensively with many Coconut Grove community stakeholders, particularly those along the waterfront. Prior to that I had served as a member of the Traffic Enforcement Unit and worked many events in Coconut Grove such as the annual Arts Festival and Halloween.

I love the physical beauty of Coconut Grove, where beautiful trees meet a unique waterfront landscape that is Biscayne Bay. I like the village and community vibe that still exists on Grand Avenue from Douglas to Mary. I am fond of history and like to see at the early architecture that is still preserved throughout the Grove.

TOM: How long have you been a police officer?

COMMANDER: I began in 1994 and am currently in my 23rd year.

TOM: How much can you go over the speed limit without getting pulled over?

COMMANDER: What?! Technically zero! Remember there is a difference between 5mph over on I-95 and 5mph over the limit on the narrow neighborhood streets of our community. Traffic safety is a primary concern for most of our residents and our team will be addressing traffic issues accordingly.

TOM: Changing the subject, if you were a superhero, what would be your special power?

COMMANDER: Flight without a doubt!

TOM: Last book you read?

COMMANDER: Absolute Power

TOM: Favorite tv show?

COMMANDER: I am not a show watcher or a big TV fan. I enjoy the History channel on occasion, and I try to keep up with both U.S. and international news.

TOM: If you weren't a police officer, what would you be?

COMMANDER: I would have liked to have been a physician or my second choice was a helicopter pilot. 

TOM: What are your views on Halloween? Commander Morales and I disagreed on it. I felt we should leave it alone as it's been for 40 years or more and he felt we needed to stifle it. Which I feel hurts business and hurts a long time tradition.

COMMANDER: Well Halloween came and went. I have personally worked many Halloweens in the Grove during the last two decades and I remember a few unpleasant ends to the evenings. For the first time in decades we did not implement a “hard traffic closure” and were able to keep traffic moving throughout the evening.  I certainly don’t agree that Major Morales wanted to “stifle” the event, but rather he recognized that we the police, were contributing to creating the circumstances that lead to the eventual misbehavior of a few. Major Morales felt like we needed to provide a safe environment for Grove families to enjoy as a primary objective, ensuring that patrons could access our local businesses, and finally keeping traffic moving for our residents and visitors. I adopted that philosophy and put my background in crowd management and traffic to work.  At the end of the evening we had zero arrests or persons injured.  I do believe that other areas such as Wynwood have become the new Halloween hot spots and I believe that trend involves many factors well beyond our handling of Halloween.

TOM: Thanks, Commander! Love having you in the neighborhood.

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