The José Milton Foundation and José Milton & Associates Refurbish Horse Stables for Mounted Patrol Police
Miami-Dade Police Department’s Mounted Patrol Unit was disbanded but revived by philanthropy and respect for law enforcement
The Tropical Park Equestrian Center was home to the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Mounted Patrol Unit – officers who patrol on horseback – until 2009, when it was disbanded amidst the U.S. financial crisis. After several failed attempts to revive the Unit, the Department finally got approval in 2022, but the stalls formerly used to house the horses had deteriorated significantly.
“It took several weeks for two Mounted Patrol Unit officers to clear out the stalls,” said Brian Ballou, MDPD information officer, “revealing crumbling and uneven floors, cracked woodwork, and rusted ironwork.”
The Department had no budget for the necessary repairs. But when the Milton Family Foundation hosted and sponsored last year’s Veteran’s Day MDPD Military Appreciation Luncheon, Retired Sgt. Paul Hernandez – our long-time friend and champion of police – reached out to my husband Cecil Milton to see if we could help. Without pause, he agreed to donate the work and materials needed to bring the stalls back to life.
After months of work, the 20 stalls were dramatically transformed. Eight stalls were converted into utility rooms and a tack room for storage and maintenance of saddles, bridles, and other riding equipment. The Unit’s on-site workspaces were updated to include air conditioning and new flooring. The roof and doors of the entire section were restructured, sanded, primed, and painted. The gravel floors were excavated and leveled for proper drainage. Misting systems were attached to the stalls to cool down the horses and to dispense mosquito repellent when necessary. Four stalls were refurbished for the Police Officer Assistance Trust (POAT). My family has long supported POAT, which raises money and assists officers and their immediate families in times of hardship and personal crisis. POAT cares for and preserves the Law Enforcement Memorial and will store the portable memorial in one of the stalls. Two stables are designated to Coral Gables Mounted Police for their horses. MDPD collaborates with all local police agencies to keep our community safe.
For more than 30 years, my family has contributed to the Department through monetary donations, fundraising events, sponsorships, and restoration projects. This project, in particular, was really a labor of love for my family. We love horses; we love our police. We think that the union of horses, police, and community policing is perfect. Officers on horseback are more approachable and highly visible. Mounted police bring people together (public and community relations) while being very effective at crowd control.
At the ceremony, Maria Nardi, the Director of the Miami-Dade County Parks Department, said, “This is just one great example that with partnerships and donations like we are seeing here today from the Milton family, we can see extraordinary improvements that will be long-lasting, and will contribute greatly to the common goals and mission and vision that we have to build an extraordinary community.”
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also recognized us. “The Milton Family has a special spot in their hearts for law enforcement,” said Mayor Levine Cava. “What we have here today is not just a restored stables, but a whole new standard for care for our horses and the mounted patrol.”
Vice Chairman Anthony Rodriguez from District 10, Westchester area and Tropical Park, presented Cecil and our family with a key to District 10. This was especially meaningful since I grew up in Westchester and Tropical Park was my stomping ground!
“With almost two decades of abandonment, overgrown weeds, things falling apart, the walls, the ceiling, everything needed to be completely redone,” Cecil said at the Reveal Ceremony. “We jumped right on it; we’re developers, so rehabbing stables is what we can do for our police and our community; it’s been a pleasure.”
Ana VeigaMilton directs Corporate Social Responsibility for United Property Management, owners and managers of almost 9000 residential units in Florida. She also presides over the José Milton Foundation, striving to close the opportunity gap in South Florida, primarily through access to quality healthcare, research, and education opportunities. As co-founder of the Cecil & Ana Milton Family Foundation, she supports a healthy and clean environment through conservation efforts, our military, and first responders. Ana holds leadership positions and serves on various philanthropic boards, including Jackson Health Foundation (past-Chair), Red Cross Miami (Secretary), University of Miami Citizens Boards (past-President), Zoo Miami Foundation (past-Chair & emeritus director), and United Way Miami (Campaign co-chair). Most recently, Ana became a board member of Girl Scouts Tropical Florida. As an engineering and law alumna, she is incredibly proud and honored to serve as a University of Miami Trustee, working to accelerate UM’s impressive upward trajectory. Ana is passionate about encouraging women and minorities to enter STEM fields and provides scholarships to graduates of the 5000 Role Models and Girl Scout Gold Awardees who choose STEM majors. Ana and her family have been recognized for their philanthropy, community engagement, and volunteerism. She was recently tapped into Iron Arrow Honor Society, the highest honor attained at the University of Miami, was awarded the Power & Influencer Award by the Global Innovative Foundation and named the Latina Pioneer of the Year 2022 by Hispanic Women of Distinction. The community celebrated the first anniversary of the José Milton Memorial Hospital at Jackson West, Top 5 percent of all US hospitals. The Milton Family’s commitment to South Florida runs deep. Ana and her husband Cecil are blessed with three community-engaged adult children, Alec, Eric, and Diana. The Milton Family resides in Coral Gables.