1 The Hispanic September 26, 2007 Pulse Hispanic Police Officers Association MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT Bill Hernandez I know this has been a trying time for our department, our members, and to some of our close friends. The recent shooting in Cutler Ridge which caused the death of Jose Somohano and injuries to Jody Wright, Tom Tundidor, and Chris Carlin devastated us all. I could not believe what was transpiring around us all. As I left my office in Doral, I was amazed on how many units traveling in emergency mode with insignias from Broward police departments were driving South on the Florida Turnpike. As I arrived at the first perimeter I noticed officers from federal agencies, municipalities, state agencies, and even officers that were off duty who had turned on their radio to hear what was going on making the events of that day feel surreal. Tragically, none of us could have ever gotten to the scene fast enough to save Jose. Though in an incredible effort we did everything we could to capture the monster (Shawn Labeet) who took our brother in blue. Nearly thirteen hours later, the monster had been slain and in my eyes heroes arose from the gun powder smoke. These men relentlessly followed a lead into Broward knowing that the monster had murdered and was willing to kill again to avoid capture. Without hesitation, these heroes responded to Broward County, located the monster and entered his den to slay him. I know most of us would have volunteered to do this; however, I am grateful that our department has these men trained and in place when we need them. Hispanic Police Officer's Association 1470 N.W. 107th Avenue Suite P Doral, Florida Phone We are on the Web: We are available 24 Hours HPOA HOTLINE (786) Members, I had the privilege that evening to be on the scene when Shawn Labeet got what he deserved. I personally shook the hands and thanked those heroes that saved the families of our officer enduring a trial. I recommend that when ever you get the chance, thank them too. On behalf of the family of Jose Somohano and the other heroes that faced the monster during that shoot out, or those officers who tried to locate him during those twelve hours, I thank you. I am one of the lucky ones who was blessed to have known Jose and am grateful that my other friends in Cutler Ridge survived this horrific event. On September 18th I was honored to offer my reflection. As I stood on stage with Jose s casket in front of me I watched his family grasping to hear every word that I had to say about their beloved, I had a hard time keeping my composure, so I looked up for strength to speak about Somo. As I looked around the room I saw so many friends and I want to let you know that you gave me the strength to continue and speak about the little boy who loved to play Cops and Robbers. Association Attorney's Mark Seiden Tim Martin Toby Soto Joel Kaplan Larry Ploucha Al Milian My friends and colleagues, I hope I was able to portray how wonderful Somo was and how lucky we were to have him. I can only pray that God watches over you everyday and protects you from those demons that cross our paths. Next meeting: Will be held at the Doral Park Country Club at 7:30pm on Monday, October 29th, All members are welcome to attend.
2 CAR WASH Bill Hernandez Prior to Jose s Death, HPOA members Marco Pasqaul and Hector Llevat came up with the idea of a carwash to help the family members of the Broward Deputies and Officer Maggie Chacon-Navarro. A committee (Hector Llevat, Tony Rodriguez, Marco Pascual, Carlos Dominguez and I) was established to determine the best location and time to do this event. A letter was prepared and sent out to several corporate sponsors requesting materials to assist with the carwash. Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and the PBA stepped up to the plate and provided us with the tools needed. A list of officers from IGB had volunteered to assist with the carwash. Everything was in place until that dreadful morning on September 13, After working countless hours, we knew we had to come together to help even more people. So our co-workers at MDPD Media Relations Department prepared a news release and the carwash was announced on the TV news stations and radio stations. Officers from all over the department heard about the carwash and came out to support the cause on that Saturday morning at IGB South. Included in all the many officers, sergeants, lieutenants, fire fighters, were Assistant Director s Oscar Vigoa, James Loftus and Naim Erched helping wash cars. The County Mayors Chief of Staff, Denis Morales without hesitation grabbed a sponge and bucket and washed cars. Throughout the day you would see Major Carlos Garcia and Captain Carlos Vazquez washing cars. So if you get a chance look at the HPOA website read the list of officer s who helped and thank them. As impressive as watching all of the department employees and their children helping was the way you saw the community come together. Our brother firefighters helped by bringing out their fire trucks, placing them in the middle of the avenue and walking up and down on the avenue collecting money. The citizens came from everywhere to get their cars washed and to donate a little something extra. Though the most humbling aspect of the evening for me was meeting a gentleman, who did not want to be mentioned, donated $10,000. In the name of Officer s Jose Somohano, Jody Wright, Tom Tundidor, Chris Carlin, Maggie Chacon, Deputy Maury Hernandez, and Deputy Chris Reyka, I would like to thank those of you who came out that day to help. Because of those officers who gave their time and the community coming together, $37,100 was raised. Thank you messages from our members Lt. Hernandez and HPOA Scholarship Committee: I would like to thank you for the $2,500 Scholarship that you have awarded me. It is a great honor to have been chosen as one of the top five recipients. This fall I will be starting my college education at Florida International University. I plan to have a career in the medical field and this will help my parents a great deal. It is a wonderful feeling to know that all the hard work that I have put in throughout the years has been recognized by your prestigious association. I will continue to work as hard in college as I did in high school to be worthy of this outstanding award. Once again, thank you for this great honor. Yours truly, Katherine Millares Page 2
3 Scholarship At our last meeting we gave out six scholarships to six very hardworking recipients. It was a pleasure seeing their families there to accept their certificates and their $2,500 scholarship (Below I have provided letters of appreciation from those recipients).next year we will be posting the scholarship applications by May 2008, so the scholarships can be awarded by the end of July Each and every year the HPOA has successfully given away more scholarships than the year before. Hopefully, with the assistance of Mayor Alvarez and his Chief of Staff, Denis Morales we can succeed in this endeavor. Our New Office This has been one of the most exhausting tasks to be dealing with as your president. Though once completed it will be one that I will cherish the most. Five years ago under the presidency of Ed Gallagher I made the suggestion of purchasing an office space. I could not understand why for so many years we paid rent for an office space and warehouse. Soon you will have a place you can call your own. The downstairs has been completely gutted and redone. By the time you read this letter the drywall should be going up. The cabinets, countertops, appliances and floors have been purchased and waiting to be installed. Hopefully by our next newsletter I can tell you when the grand opening will be. Message from the 2nd Vice President Jose Gonzalez This past month we had our quarterly domino tournament. This tournament was organized in efforts to help the family of Deputies Christopher Reyka and Maury Hernandez. This event provided the usual open bar, food, cigars, and dancing throughout the evening and included a silent auction and raffle. Since the evening was for our brother officers in Broward, several officers from BSO were present. These officers could not believe what an incredible association we had and could only wish to have something like this in Broward. Best of all, Maury Hernandez s brother Josue, helped give out the gifts. At the end of the evening we raised $5,300. The members who were present signed a large poster board wishing Maury Hernandez a speedy recovery. On behalf of the Hernandez and Reyka family they would like to express their sincerest gratitude to all of you who attended. Additionally, I would like to thank Willie and Jessica Pedraja for their continued support. Without them this event would not have been so successful. Presenting the Awards are: Jose Gonzalez, Carlos Arguelles and Hiram Rodriguez 1st Place Armando Hernandez Jr. & Sr. 2nd Place Carlos Rosario & Javier Garcia 3rd Place Freddy Rojas & Carlos Rodriguez Bill Hellman, Ariel Rodriguez, Carlos Arguellez Patty Sedano Ramon Iglesias Jose & Lazaro Ramirez Josue Hernandez Bill Hernandez Page 3
4 Changing of the By Laws Bill Hernandez Since your new board started in February we have been discussing changing the By Laws to meet our growing needs. At present we are rewriting certain areas that were rewritten when the By laws were last changed in As of right now these are the ideas that will be put forward for your review: Having staggered elections. It was recommended that every two years we hold elections; however this election would be for three positions not six. The idea is that it would allow the board to continue on their mission without interruption. Additionally, it would create a safety net in which three members would stay on to assist and mentor. I believe this would create more continuity and allow for more growth. Incorporate HPOA Chapters. This would allow individuals who are leaving our department to work at various municipalities to continue their membership. Also, it would allow for our organi zation to grow outside of MDPD. Each chapter would have a representative and would voice their chapters concerns at the monthly meeting. Those members would have voting rights for their chap ter only. Meaning that the executive board always has the final decision. Incorporate various trust accounts to safe guard the HPOA funds. This would allow the monies to grow in these trusts and not be allowed to be withdrawn for any reason. Example; A trust would be established for fallen officers, sick or injured officers, sudden death not work related. This trust would be in addition to the scholarship trust that has already been formed. We have been receiving many phone calls from outside agencies that want to join the HPOA. It makes me proud knowing that the excitement to become an HPOA member stems from all the hard work we are doing in the community. We should all be proud being an HPOA member. It is humbling at times when I receive a call from BSO, Ft. Lauderdale PD, Coral Gables, and as far South as Key West, and they are stating they have heard great things about us and would like to join our association. Message From The 1st Vice- President Hiram Rodriguez Lieutenant s Promotional Preparation I want to congratulate all of you recently passed the Lieutenant s exam. You dedicated your time to pass the written portion and that is commendable. During our last membership meeting we presented all proposals obtained for your preparation course. Those members who attended discussed the options and agreed to reward Thomas Rockhill to conduct the course. This course will start on Friday, September 28th at 1:00 p.m. and concluded by 9:00 p.m. The course will continue Saturday, September 29th and 30th from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Registration will be open to all active members who have been good standing prior to January 19, The course will be three days and run from 8am to 5 pm. It will held in the Headquarters Cafetorium on the third floor. Now you need to understand the second portion of the test. You will be graded on how well you accomplish each individual situation. You will be scored on each dimension and how you articulated your response to each scenario. This is where mentorship comes into play. Reach out to those members that have accomplished the goal you wish to attain and ask for their help. If you have achieved the rank of Lieutenant or higher it is your responsibility to help our members continue to climb through the ranks. Through mentorship we can accomplish so much. So please reach out and help. However, I want to make it perfectly clear that the HPOA is a Fraternal Organization and has no intention of being anything else. The HPOA wants to strengthen its association by increasing its membership and establishing stronger partnerships within the community. At the same time help our department by helping our members excel. I feel we should always support the PBA, John Rivera, and his staff. They have done an incredible job and hopefully the PBA can see the value of the HPOA and what it offers its members. Message from Lorena Somohano & Family The Somohano family has always been small. We are three siblings with their spouse and children, my parents and three cousins. However when my brother's life was taken from him, we realized truly how big the family really is. We didn't know how many brothers and sisters Jose had. No words can express our sincere gratitude and appreciation for the overwhelming prayers, support and kindness everybody has showed to us... from his brothers and sisters in the law enforcement field, to the family's co-workers, our neighbors, friends, relatives, and even people we did not know. We were touched with this outpouring of love for Jose and for us by the community which we did not really realize until this day. THANK YOU SO MUCH. Page 4
5 Thank you messages from our members Dear Bill, Thank you for your time and effort in coordinating and providing the HPOA Scholarship Award. Please extend a special thank you to everyone involved with the scholarship committee. The investment that the HPOA makes for our children is one that certainly will pay dividends for years to come. I can assure you that Michael (Florida State University) and Miranda (Boston University) appreciate the award and understand how fortunate they are to be recognized for this award. Sincerely, Bill Hellman, Lieutenant Dear Mr. Hernandez, My parents just informed me of the exciting news from your award letter and I just wanted to send my sincerest thanks to you and the Hispanic Police Officers Association (HPOA). It is an honor to be a recipient of the HPOA Annual Scholarship of $2,500. I am now just finishing up my summer session at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and your scholarship will be a tremendous help in enabling me to continue my education. As the fall semester starts on August 20th, I will be unable to attend your next meeting. My father, Lieutenant Joe Lopez, will represent me. Please extend my thanks and appreciation to the HPOA for providing me this great opportunity. I am committed to doing well here at the University of Central Florida in my chosen major of Forensic Science which I hope someday might enable me to pursue a career in law enforcement. A poem written by one of our own Enough is Enough I took an oath to protect and serve, Respect and fairness is what I deserve. I come to your home all hours of the night, To comfort your fears and break up the fight. I have my own life and problems to face, I handle daily dramas with poise and grace. I am a daughter, a friend, officer and a wife, I hold your hand and bare the news of loss of life. I am human, I have fears but I have to be strong, Make split second decisions that can't be wrong. I save a life and rush to put out the flames, But, when something goes wrong, who's to blame? We buried a fellow officer today and my heart aches, An armed subject with an AK47 made no mistakes. A son, a friend, an officer no more, Too much violence on the streets that you can't ignore. Stricter gun laws for the public and training is a must, Another officer down is so unjust. Ill-equipped and poorly trained makes for a losing war, Is this what to expect and what the future has in-store? Take a moment and reflect on what you've seen today, In our hearts and minds, these images will stay, Respect police officers and the sacrifices they must make, Their families, their careers, and lives are at stake. Its in our blood, there s no other place we would rather be, But, when we lose one, we all hurt, this is one big family. Kristy De La Paz Sincerely, Nicole Lopez On behalf of the Cutler Ridge District, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude of the overwhelming response from our brothers and sisters in law enforcement and the community. We grieve the lost of our brother and are now left with the difficult task of carrying on without him. We lost a true hero, fellow officer and friend. Yes, we must keep our resolve and commitment to make Cutler Ridge a better place for everyone. Even more importantly, we must ensure that Jose s memory is carried on through our efforts. Our hearts and prayers go out to Jose s family. Our prayers are also with Jody, Chris and Tom as they begin to recover from their injuries. One thing is evident, in the dark minutes they demonstrated bravery and determination, under the most challenging of situations. Let s not forget the many heroes that responded that fatal day that were not injured, but faced the challenge of staying alive and protecting their brothers and sisters. We thank Manny, Anthony, Clifford, Angela, Orlando, Darren, Jairo, Ron, and many others. Without question, their actions saved the lives of others in harms way. In these difficult times we must stay united and support each other as we deal with our emotions. United we can start the healing process and work toward ensuring that Jose s memory will be with us forever. A special thanks to the many that remained steadfast on their objective, their dedication, and their overall exceptional performance that brought us closure. You know who you are and we thank you! Page 5
6 A Nice Message sent on behalf of a Fire Fighter My name is Jeannie Nunez-Capote and I am a firefighter for MDFR. I attended today's memorial, because I wanted to pay homage to someone I had never met, Officer Jose Somohano. Your tribute to him was quite moving, and you're right...i am jealous that I never had the opportunity to befriend Jose. He sounds like he is a spectacular person. I always believe there is a reason for everything (almost everything). There is a reason why you let your guard down and took in this new puppy. Jose could have worked for another unit, another department, chosen another career, lived in a different city, etc., but yet he crossed your path and not mine. You were the chosen one along with all of his co-workers that were also blessed to have had Jose in your lives. I consider that to be more than just pure luck. I feel certain (without even knowing him) that Jose gave each one of you something very precious: an unforgettable friendship that will leave you all with indelible memories etched forever in your hearts. Jose chose to serve and protect this community. Be certain that his tenure is not over; he's just doing it from a different 'department' now. It was with great pleasure to have attended today's memorial. I was inadvertently introduced to a great hero whom I will always remember. I thank you and the rest of your co-workers that had the strength to not only stand behind the podium, but to also stand before Jose's family and friends to share your reflections with those of us that did not have the opportunity to be graced by his friendship. I can only fathom the difficulty of having had to deliver that speech. It was a somber day for all of us, but the hardship's you all have endured in the last 5 days is most certainly the most somber cross to carry. I wish you, your co-workers, and most importantly...jose's family, peace today, tomorrow, and always. May God bless us all and keep us safe throughout our shifts, so we may always return home. A good day is when I make it home to my 4 year old son. A great day is when we all make it home. Thank you again for the strength and the love that you were all able to demonstrate today. I will honor Jose's memory in gratitude of your words Lt. Bernhard, as well as Lt. Billy Hernandez, and Lt Juan Perez. My sincerest condolences, Firefighter Jeannie Nunez-Capote Battalion 10 Miami Dade Fire Rescue Remembering Hillsborough Sergeant Ronald Harrison By now I'm sure you've all heard of the tragic news that occurred last month in Hillsborough County. As someone who was there, I just wanted to share my feelings and thoughts about the events. I was part of the DUI Checkpoint class that IPTM put on in Tampa. I spent the past 2 days with Sgt. Harrison, including that night which ended up being his last. I only had the honor and privilege of knowing him for a short 6 months, but he is definitely a man that left his mark with me. He was the Sgt. of the 3-D (DUI Unit) for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in Tampa, FL. He was the sole reason why HCSO was far and away the leader of DUI arrests in the State of Florida by nearly 2 thousand arrests. He had a passion for impaired driving that has been unmatched in my experience with DUI officers. He was always on the cutting edge of ideas, tactics, checkpoints and DUI enforcement. He and I talked for hours that night about teaming up and working together in order to bridge the gap between law enforcement and prosecutors in Florida. His main focus was education. He constantly reminded me about how I would fill up his s daily with DUI case law, articles and theories, but he always thanked me and made sure that he passed it along to the men and women of his squad so they remained informed on every aspect of DUI enforcement and prosecution. He wanted to be the best and he wanted his squad to be the best. Throughout my time with the FPAA, I have seen a great deal of DUI Units at various agencies and Sgt. Ronald Harrison and his unit was definitely the best that we had in Florida. He was not only a great leader to his men and women, but he was also a great colleague, friend and father. I will sincerely miss his leadership and friendship and know that the men and women of the State of Florida will never be able to replace the passion and asset that Sgt. Harrison was to impaired driving. I said goodbye to Sgt. Harrison no less than 15 minutes before he was murdered that night after his checkpoint. I never thought that that would be the last time I would see him or speak to him. If there is one thing I know though, he would have loved the fact that his last event on this Earth was a DUI checkpoint. Florida definitely lost a man that we can never replace. We are definitely in a worse place here without him. Heaven on the other hand, gained one of the finest men that I've ever had the privilege of knowing and I have no doubts that it's a better place today for having him a part of it. Matt Olszewski DUI Staff Attorney/TSRP SFST Instructor Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association Page 6
7 Message from Sergeant at Arms Alex Alfonso One of our own: Usually, I use this space as an opportunity to shout about the fact that we need members to become more actively involved in the organization and how I want you all to show up to the meetings. This month I want to write about how we need to look out for each other has been an extremely rough year for Law Enforcement in Florida. With the tragedies that happened to Broward Sheriff s Office Officer Maury Hernandez and Sergeant Christopher Reyka and the more recent tragedy that occurred on September 13, 2007 which resulted in the loss of one our own family members Officer Jose Somohano and the injuries of Officer Jody Wright, Officer Tomas Tundidor, and Officer Christopher Carlin that all occurred during the performances of their duties. It made me realize that in the end, all we have is each other. Despite how awful these events were, it also allowed the public to see a side of those involved in public safety that is taken for granted. It was the acts of compassion that drove many different agencies to offer their assistance of their own accord, during a very dark moment in our lives, to help our fellow man. Regardless of whether it a member of Fire, another member of the Miami- Dade Police Department, outside municipal agency, or even another federal agency they all came out to help without our asking. It is this sense of family that must be maintained, not only during the times of crisis, but during all other moments throughout. It made realize how fleeting life can be and how fortunate we all are to make it home. Please take this humble message and reflect on how these recent events have all changed our lives and lives of those around us. On behalf of the other HPOA board members and myself, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those we have lost, those who were injured and to each and every single one of you. Be safe and take care of each other. County, you can cut what ever you want, but don't touch my budget!!! (PART 3) Message From The Treasurer Arnold Palmer Super Exemption or bust!!!!! Hopefully this is the last message I will write on this topic for some time. At nausea, I have preached the message of budget cuts, next years, budget, and how it will impact us. But this month we need examine the flips side of this issue, how will the proposed Super-Exemption impact our pockets in future property taxes we will need to pay. In researching this issue, I came across the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser website (http://www.miamidade.gov/pa/). It was there I found a huge amount of information regarding this topic. The first issue discussed, was the tax roll back. Essentially, Governor Charlie Crist signed a bill that required most municipal and county governments to roll back their tax rolls for the same value as in 2006 with additional percentages for 3 to 9 percent reductions based on historical spending. As a result, as an employee you should see reductions in your district or bureau budgets and as a Florida resident you should see a minor reduction to your property taxes. The second issue, in which I am skeptical, is the January 29th vote on the Super Tax-Exemption. In short, the current As always the HPOA continues to support those in need. This past month was one of great proportions. The loss and injuries of officers was extent, but thanks to you contributions we made a significant impact. Below are the charities that you the members, were able to provide monetary assistance. Septembers Charitable Donation Trust fund for Officer Jose Somohano Trust fund for Officer Maggie Navaro Chacon Trust Fund of Deputy Maury Hernandez Trust Fund of Deputy Christopher Reyka Officer Jody Wright Optimist Club Of Kendall Hammocks Book Bag Giveaway (Centro Cristiano) Embrace Girls Foundation Saint Teresa Catholic School Rising Star Booster Club Homestead exemption provided primary homeowners a $25,000 reduction on your assessable property value and that your assessment cannot increase higher than 3 percent per year. The Super Exemption your assessed taxable value of your home is reduced by $195,000. However, you forfeit your 3 percent taxable increase cap and it undetermined how the property appraiser will set the value of your home (this is a big concern if you purchased your home prior to the soaring market value). If this passes and you own your home prior to January 29th, then you are provided a one-time option to opt for either proposal. However, you cannot opt back. Additionally, if you purchase a home after the aforementioned date, then you are automatically opted to the new Super Exemption. I have personal views on this issue, but don t take my word for it. Get online and get informed using the website above. There is also a tool that will allow you to see how your taxes would change based on the new proposal. From here on in, I promise to find something else to write about.. Page 7
8 Message From The Secretary Eric Garcia REFLECTION FOR A HERO: I would like to take the time to honor our fallen brother Jose Somohano: a man of honor and courage killed in the line of duty, which in times of challenge stood with the innocent against the guilty, with the peaceful against the violent, with the right against the wrong, with the righteous against injustice. When we take the measure of Detective Somohano, we find a hero. Detective Somohano knew where he stood and claimed his ground with dignity and pride. He was a member of a special breed, men and women passionately devoted to a profession that is more of a calling than a vocation. He went were others feared to go, put the safety of the community before his own, and served with dedication, compassion, purpose and integrity. It is a life of service to others you've never met, of days that start as quiet and routine and without warning turn chaotic and violent. A life in which you are never sure if at the end of your shift will find yourself in your green & white going home or in an ambulance speeding to the emergency room. Nothing can be taken for granted. For those of you who wear the badge we are well aware of these risks. We train and prepare but sometimes none of that matters. We have spouses, children, mothers and fathers. We have dreams and goals and look forward to a long and peaceful retirement. But still we are steadfast and do not shrink from our duties. We see the best and worst in all of us. We confront despair, cynicism, and seemingly insurmountable challenges. But still we carry on. It is difficult for others to fathom the strength, courage and commitment that propel us out the door each morning. Perhaps it is because while we are faced with incredible difficulties we are also privileged to participate in some of society's greatest moments. We experience the grateful nod of appreciation from someone we helped and feel the awe of children who want only to follow in our footsteps. Perhaps It is because we respect the law, want to help others and reduce the suffering of those in pain. We want right to prevail over wrong and know the importance of the thin blue line. It reminds us that in an age too often fraught with indifference and weakness, there are still those who stand tall and make a difference and our lives are richer for the time we have them with us as was with Jose Somohano. To honor his legacy we must honor his example - Courage, Service, Integrity and Responsibility. We can never repay our debt to him for making the ultimate sacrifice. We must not forget and we must do justice to his memory and the values he held so dear. And finally, for the family and friends left behind, I know there are no words to ease your sorrow or change the reality of what has been taken from you. This hero is no longer with us. But I can tell you that in our hearts, we will always remember and be grateful for your husband, your father, your son, your brother, your friend. We will make sure that Detective Jose Somohano s name and his memories live on in the hearts, minds, and souls of all of us for generations to come. That is our duty and our commitment to you. Hispanic Police Officer Association 1470 NW 107 Avenue Unit, P Doral, Florida PRSRT STD US POSTAGE PAID MIAMI, FL. PERMIT NO 1655 The Hispanic Pulse