MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Just mention Memorial Day Weekend to a Miami Beach resident and they’ll gasp.
“The traffic, the noise, the beach.” beach resident Suzan Imber told CBS4. She wishes she could just get away. “Every year we say never again. We are going to go away. Unfortunately, I have tickets for a show; so we’ll have to be here this Memorial day so we’ll have to be here.”
After last years weekend ended in a deadly police involved shooting; the city is putting together a comprehensive plan to address the some 200,000 expected to return this year.
The plan includes turning major thoroughfares into one way streets, putting DUI checkpoints on causeways, scanning all license plates entering the city, and staging some 500 officers across virtually every block.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” said tourist Chris Bones. “Everybody’s not drinking. Some people are out just to have a good time and they don’t need anyone checking on them.”
Bones’ sister-in-law Tameika Crawford, a Miami resident, doesn’t agree
“A safety issue, so I agree,” said Crawford.
ACLU spokesperson John De Leon sees the aggressive tactics as racially motivated. He believes recording people’s license plates crosses the line.
“The message is very clear. We don’t want you here,” said John De Leon with the ACLU after he saw the plan. “We are not living in Soviet Russia. We are not living in some totalitarian state where they monitoring everything.”
Miami Beach Assistance City Manager Hilda Fernandez disagreed with De Leon’s sentiments.
“If you have nothing to worry about then you shouldn’t be worried. If you are coming into the city and you don’t have a stolen car or an expired tag than you have nothing to worry about,” said Fernandez.
Miami Beach disclosed today the four-day plan will cost them $1.8 million. The money comes from tourist taxes that are collected and deposited in the city’s general fund.
City staff roughly estimated if they have a really good weekend collecting bed and food sales taxes they could make back maybe half of what’s spent.
Still, the numbers concern beach commissioner Jorge Exposito.
“It just seems like a lot,” Exposito said. “It really seems like a lot. And I’m not sure that we are getting it all back.”
Not all the money will go to guns and badges.
You will see Miami Heat stars Dwayne Wade and Udonis Haslem faces plastered all over the place pushing a “Respect the Scene” campaign. From wristbands to life-size cutouts, beach organizers are hoping visitors get the subliminal message.
Imber said it’s the only thing she really wants, “Respect our city, the residents.”
In 2006, Miami Beach set a record with more than 1000 arrests over the holiday weekend. With all the tactics being used this time around, including a DUI checkpoint, it’s possible they could have another record setting Memorial day weekend.