Public Defender Bennett Brummer speaks at school safety forum for National Crime Prevention Month

Miami, FL — Oct. 27, 1999 As part of National Crime Prevention Month, Public Defender Bennett H. Brummer spoke to more than 300 educators and business leaders about his innovative Anti-Violence Initiative (AVI) at the Safe Communities/Safe Schools Summit sponsored by Dade County Public Schools at Miami Edison Middle School.

"We are interested in safe schools because if the schools are successful, the Public Defender’s Office will have fewer clients," Mr. Brummer said. "The best way to improve public safety is to identify the children who need help, then identify their real needs and provide the services to meet those needs. Thus, the schools and our community will be safer and our clients will be able to lead productive lives."

As a community, we have failed to do enough to insure the safety of our schools and our community, Mr. Brummer continued. "The sad thing is that we know what works and what doesn’t, but the community lacks the political will to focus on the things that work," Mr. Brummer said. The schools may not be the ideal place to address some children’s problems, but the schools will generally be a much more effective place than the criminal justice system.

The AVI consists of numerous partnerships between the Public Defender’s Office and governmental and community organizations that are directed toward identifying clients’ problems and addressing them effectively.

For example, Mr. Brummer is developing an educational rights advocacy project to help children obtain services that they are legally entitled to receive. As many as half of the juveniles housed at the detention center have been identified by the schools as needing special educational services.

Dr. Robert B. Ingram, a Miami-Dade School Board member and chairperson of the committee that organized the one-day summit, praised the AVI:

"For the Public Defender to take on such an initiative is extremely important. Normally, the Public Defender’s Office gets involved after it’s happened. So to create a prevention strategy is something that must be appreciated and commended."

Dr. Ingram continued: "Violence in the community is epidemic. There is a real need to have strategies to help people to cope. The Public Defender brings to the table a real sensitivity and knowledge base that cannot help but be beneficial to our community."



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Law Offices of the Public Defender
Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida


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