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The original item was published from 1/16/2020 4:04:18 PM to 1/31/2020 5:05:00 PM.

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Posted on: January 8, 2020

[ARCHIVED] HCPD Spotlight: Meet Your COPS Unit

Officer kneeling with children

Since the unit’s official inception in March 2019, the Haines City Police Department’s COPS (Community Oriented Policing Section) has continued to strive to make a difference.

The purpose of the program is to develop a closer rapport between the community and the department. The unit, features two – and soon-to-be four -- full-time sworn officers. The officers sometimes work out of the substation in the Oakland neighborhood. One goal of the program is for residents and officers to get to know each other on a first name basis, develop a mutual respect and to work together to alleviate the problems that are unique to the city’s different neighborhoods and communities.

Officers Carlos Dominguez and Joel Morales smile with patrons at McDonald’s during a monthly

The unit also has an educational component as the officers are actively involved in mentoring the youth and engaged in different community events. As the program’s officers and residents get to know one another, the agency expects that this unique partnership will help in continuing to push property crime trends downward. The COPS program abides by a problem-solving model that includes identifying issues, setting goals, collecting relevant data, searching for communities with similar problems, creating new interventions, process evaluation and continual analysis.

Officer Joel Morales (middle) and Sgt. Christopher Colon (right) welcome new business, El Azucarero

Sgt. Christopher Colon

A native of the Bronx, Sgt. Christopher Colon has been a member of the Haines City Police Department since March 2011. Prior to coming to the Heart of Florida, Sgt. Colon spent four years as a corrections officer with the Florida Department of Corrections. Formerly a COPS officer, detective and patrol officer, Colon was promoted to corporal in April 2017 and then to sergeant six months later. Sgt. Colon oversees the COPS unit, which currently has two -- but will soon have four -- officers. Before his days in law enforcement, Sgt. Colon spent time as a collegiate athlete as a left-handed pitcher for Westchester Community College in New York. Colon also owns a recording studio where he records and films music videos.

Officer Carlos Dominguez presents a law enforcement shield to youngsters at Kids First Academy Learn

Officer Carlos Dominguez

A native of the Dominican Republic, Officer Carlos Dominguez began his tenure at the Haines City Police Department in March 2017 after a stint at the Florida Department of Corrections. Officer Dominguez was raised in New York and played catcher for Ramapo College of New Jersey’s varsity baseball team. Dominguez spent time as a radio host for iHeartRadio in South Florida before coming to Haines City. Savvy in digital media, Dominguez used YouTube to teach himself how to cook and to play the piano. Dominguez plucks his eyebrows and has been on 27 cruises. In his spare time, Dominguez enjoys hunting and fishing.

Officer Joel Morales talks with a group of Cub Scouts at First Presbyterian Church on Dec. 16, 2019.

Officer Joel Morales

A member of the Haines City Police Department since November 2018, Officer Joel Morales began his career as patrol before joining the COPS unit on the 1-year anniversary of his hiring. A native of the Dominican Republic, Morales was raised in New York before moving to Brevard County. Prior to joining the Police Department, Morales served in the U.S. Air Force from 2009 to 2013, serving in Afghanistan and Iraq and earning the Joint Service Achievement Medal. With a bachelor’s in information technology, Morales previously worked in banking and at the Department of Juvenile Justice. When off the clock, Morales is an avid gamer and a diehard fan of Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees.

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