The North Miami Police Department’s “Officer of the Month” for July 2014 is Kathleen Ruggiero, who is assigned to the Community Service Section. Officer Ruggiero has been a member of the North Miami Police Department for twenty eight years. Officer Ruggiero is recognized for her extraordinary effort and dedication to the City of North Miami Police Department. She was nominated by Sergeant David Rosen for the following case: On June 12th 2014 while actively patrolling the central business district of North Miami, Officer Ruggiero encountered a homeless female sitting on the side walk. The subject had extremely poor hygiene, suffered from mental health issues, and was dealing with an infection on her leg.
The subject, later known as Ms. Fleurant, had all of her belongings in numerous trash bags, which were overflowing from a broken shopping cart.
Having dealt with people in need of assistance for over thirty years, Officer Ruggiero immediately identified that Ms. Fleurant was in need of critical assistance. Officer Ruggiero was able to establish an instant trusting relationship with Ms. Fleurant and was able to gather useful information. Due to medical and mental health concerns, Officer Ruggiero called for medical attention.
Miami Dade Fire Rescue responded and determined that the subject needed to be transported to the hospital for immediate medical attention. Ms. Fleurant was more concerned about losing her possessions than her medical condition and was very reluctant to part with them. Officer Ruggiero assured her that her belongings would not be discarded. Officers escorted her to the hospital with Fire Rescue, while Officer Ruggiero stayed behind with her belongings.
Officer Ruggiero diligently sorted through the trash bags which contained Ms. Fleurant’s personal belongings. While sorting through the items, Officer Ruggiero had to separate rotten spoiled food and other soiled items from personal property. Buried deep in the bags, Officer Ruggiero located twenty two government checks totaling over $21,000.00. The checks along with Ms. Fleurant personal belongings were impounded for safekeeping.
Noticing the need for continued care and the amount of un-cashed checks in Ms. Fleurant possession, Officer Ruggiero followed up with the hospital’s social worker and the Division of Children and Families (DCF).
Two days later Officer Ruggiero received a call that Ms. Fleurant was out of the hospital and back on the streets. Officer Ruggiero and the COPS team responded to the area where Ms. Fleurant was known to frequent and they were able to locate her. Due to her mental state coupled with life safety issues, contact was made with DCF and an emergency investigator was requested. The investigator responded and met with Ms. Fleurant and Officer Ruggiero.
The DCF investigator was familiar with Ms. Fleurant and had been involved with Ms. Fleurant and her children in past years.
With the assistance of the DCF investigator, an emergency court order for a guardian and placement was requested. The order was granted and Ms. Fleurant now has a guardian who is able to act on her behalf and a safe clean facility to live in.
Due to Officer Ruggiero’s compassion and many years of experience in successfully dealing with citizens who have special needs, Ms. Fleurant now has a home and will be properly cared for.
was chosen as Officer of the Month for July 2014 and will be honored at the Greater North Miami Chamber of Commerce luncheon, held quarterly at the Miami Shores Country Club, on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 12:00 Noon.