American Democracy

Policy-making Body

In a democracy, public policy is ultimately formulated by elected officials. In Miami-Dade County, the main policy-making body is the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), along with the Mayor of Miami-Dade. The power of the Mayor’s office in Miami-Dade has vacillated over the years as its citizens have voted several charter amendments that have given the Mayor’s office more power (in the form of a “strong mayor” model) and diminished power (in the form of a “county manager” model). Throughout these changes, one thing has remained the same: the ultimate policy-making power has remained in the hands of the thirteen-member BOCC.

In addition to the BOCC, there are also 34 different municipalities within Miami- Dade County, each with its own governing bodies. The largest of these municipalities include the City of Miami, Hialeah, Miami Beach, and Coral Gables. Each one of these cities has a sizeable population and their own police and fire-rescue departments. Other sizeable towns and police departments include North Miami, North Miami Beach, and South Miami

can see from this brief description, there are a lot of policy makers involved in making policy just within the Miami-Dade County jurisdiction alone. Add to that the adjacent Broward County government, and its 31 municipalities, and we can better understand the complexities of policy-making as it pertains to the planning of a large scale special event such as the DRNC or a Super Bowl. A lot of people have a stake in the event, and a lot of people will want to have a voice in the formulation of policy. Obviously, with so many stakeholders involved, not everyone’s voice is going to be heard equally.

Because of the many jurisdictions involved in, or affected by the event, there needs to be a small and unified core group of planners that focus on this event only. For the Democratic Republic National Convention (DRNC) event, Miami-Dade has formed a Host Committee, much in the same model of the Super Bowl Host Committees of the past. The Host Committee is a small group of 15 appointed personnel from various county and municipal agencies, as well as the private sector. Miami-Dade Police Department Director Melanie Duncan is one of the committee members. The Host Committee is chaired by Mr. Horace Copeland, a long time assistant to the County Manager, Miguel Herrera. The purpose of the Host Committee is to plan for the overall event. As such, they are responsible for recommending policy, but not for enacting policy. The enactment of policy remains the ultimate responsibility of the BOCC.

The Democratic-Republican National Party (DRNP) has designated Ms. Cassandra Armand as the chair of the DRNC’s Committee on Arrangements (COA). The COA is the main organizer from the DRNP for this event. Ms. Armand and Mr. Copeland from the Host Committee work hand-in-hand to plan this event and their recommendations to the BOCC carry considerable weight for policy formulation.

One policy decision that has already been made is that Miami-Dade Police has been designated as the lead local agency and lead operational planner for the event security. This policy differs significantly from the 2003 FTAA in which the City of Miami was designated as the lead local agency.

Since this event meets the criteria of a National Special Security Event (NSSE), the U.S. Secret Service has been designated as the lead coordinating agency with overarching statutory authority for the planning and execution of the event. Supervisory Special Agent Samantha Salerno has been appointed as the lead agent in-charge of the federal


So far, a few major planning decisions have been made. The American Airlines Arena in Downtown Miami has been selected as the location for the main event of the convention. Because of its proximity to the entrance to the Port of Miami, the selection of this arena poses some challenges regarding the balance between buffer zone security and the normal, day-to-day business of the Port, which includes cargo traffic and cruise ship passenger traffic. Moreover, the local merchants of the adjacent stores in the Bayside Marketplace will also be affected by the week-long event. The high likelihood of protestors demonstrating at the event adds another significant factor to the policy- planning process.

As the incident  Commander and principal planner for the Miami-Dade Police Department, Major Warren will have to make policy recommendations to the BOCC that will affect a number of stakeholder interests. He knows that he has to balance the need for security with the right of demonstrators to protest, and the rights of the local business owners to conduct their daily activities. It is a major challenge, to say the least. He also knows that although his recommendations will carry a lot of weight with the County Manager and with the BOCC, he must tread carefully in a politically-charged environment. After all, this is a political event, and both of the major national parties have a stake in the proceedings. Both of these parties are represented by politicians throughout the county and municipal governments. Locally, most politicians want to see this event be a success for the good of the local economy, but not all the special interest stakeholders share this viewpoint. In this stakeholder environment, not everyone is going to be your friend.

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