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 Defenders 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 doesnt, 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 childrens 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 Defenders
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 Defenders Office gets involved after its
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."