Commissioner Candidate Ken Russell speaks softly and carries a big saw.

Commissioner Candidate Ken Russell speaks softly and carries a big saw.

I had just finished my coffee yesterday and was checking the facebook when a message popped up from a neighbor.  She was trapped in her house because a tree had fallen across the road and in her driveway last night.  Her car couldn't get out.

She had called 911 when it happened.  Not only did they not respond, they dismissed her issue as a solid waste pickup problem.  The police were not dispatched.  In the dark, this large tree lay across Hardee road that is regularly trafficked by cars doing nearly 50mph.

As a part time lumber jack / part time good samaritan, I grabbed my chainsaw and cleared the path so my neighbor could get out of her house.

So, should 911 have dispatched an officer that night?  I believe the protocol should be YES.  If not for the safety of that neighbor, then for the safety of every car that came barreling down that road that night.  Cones or markers should have been placed until daylight or until the tree could be removed.

Some might say this is a non emergency call.  Have you heard of 311 instead of 911?  This is a system that is organized by the county and was set up several years ago.  It is a routing system for anything and everything that a neighbor could need.  From potholes to bad neighbors, 311 is your answer.  Actually, it's a black hole of complaints that rarely get addressed.  The system broke down years ago at the city level, so it's no longer efficient.

Miami Can Do Better.  There are simple fixes to make sure that calls are routed to departments and that those complaints are addressed.  But there's certainly no excuse for 911 to not send an officer to help a neighbor in the middle of the night or to secure a road from a potential accident.

As Commissioner I cannot promise that I will personally visit every house with a chainsaw.  However, I will make sure that the plans and protocols are in place so that 911 doesn't say "it's not my department" when something like this happens.  And for the truly daytime issues like potholes, I'll make sure that the City's 311 system functions to its full potential.