MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – It’s where most police officers back in the day got their start, the good ole walking beat.
Today for the first time in decades Miami Beach Police are bringing it back. Some old timers’ say it’s the first time it’s been done since 1950.
“That’s what some people have said. But I’m not sure I wasn’t around in 1950,” Raymond Martinez, Miami Beach’s acting police told CBS4’s David Sutta.
He may not be that old, but cops on a stroll is the acting chief’s idea. He’s hoping what worked 60 years ago will work today to save neighborhoods like Washington avenue where crime rates have been challenging.
The chief admitted they’ve lost touch with their community.
“They saw the cars driving by but you know they police officers didn’t get out of the car and walk,” said Martinez. “So we created walking beats specifically where officers will be assigned to walking beats seven days a week.”
If it sounds like getting back to basics you are right. Basics may be what is needed.
Miami Beach police have had an embarrassing year from a Memorial Day weekend shooting captured on camera, to an ATV officer allegedly drinking and running over tourists.
“We are a first class police department and we need restore the trust in the community. Restore the public trust in us,” Martinez said.
Starting this week Chief Martinez has made the seven mile island smaller by dividing coverage into eight areas instead of three.
Officers will be held accountable for their section of town rather than the entire city.
“They are excited about it. They want to be responsible. They want to know what’s going on. They want to be the face of their area,” said Martinez.
Officers are also starting a fourth shift to double up coverage during peak times of the day.
So far the moves are being well received by businesses.
“I don’t want to say it’s 10 year too late but it’s better late than never,” said Howard Sanders, who owns a diner on Washington Avenue.
The walking police officer experiment is expected to last a few months on Miami Beach, at least until a new police chief is hired.