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Urban Beach Week Nears; Cops Say They’re Prepared

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Lauren-Pastrana-600x450 Lauren Pastrana
Lauren Pastrana joined CBS Miami in April 2012 as a reporter. Sh...
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South Florida Crime

MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – Miami Beach Police are putting the final touches on the plan to protect the city during the upcoming Urban Beach Week.

The party on South Beach will begin Thursday night on May 23rd and wrap up on Monday night, May 27th.

“We’re very prepared,” Lt. Julio Yero told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana.

Lt. Yero is confident the 13th year of Urban Beach Weekend will go much like the one that preceded it.

“There’s a unified effort with a lot of agencies. We have a lot of personnel involved,” he explained. “We feel very prepared for any situation.”

Memorial Day weekend 2012 was a stark contrast to 2011, when gunshots sent revelers scattering for safety.

Miami Beach Police shot and killed Raymond Herrise after they said he refused to pull over while speeding along Collins Avenue.

Police said Herrise struck an officer and other cars as he drove.

In the autopsy report obtained by our partners at the Miami Herald said Herrise suffered 16 gunshot wounds. It goes on to say he was drunk at the time of the shooting.

This year, the police department has the added pressure of planning for massive crowds in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and the mass shooting at a Mother’s Day parade in New Orleans.

“We always have contingency plans for large crowds and for all of our events. We expect the best but plan for the worst,” said Max Sklar, the city’s Tourism, Culture and Economic Development director.

He chose not to go into the specifics of those plans.

Ocean Drive will be reserved for pedestrians, and a traffic loop will be in effect along Washington Avenue and Collins Avenue on South Beach between 7pm and 7am.

While most business owners appreciate the influx of visitors, some say the traffic changes work against them.

Bill Debus says the barbecue restaurant he manages near 16th and Washington saw 70% less business during the holiday weekend last year, because the closest parking garage was closed off for the event.

He was one of several business representatives on hand for an informational meeting at city hall Monday.

He’s reassured by slight changes to the plan this year.

“It sounds a lot better than it did last year,” Debus told Pastrana. “I hope they come through with everything they’re saying. They seem to have figured out last year that they need this year.”

Last year, police made more than 300 arrests.

They hope their proactive approach will mean even fewer people in cuffs this time around.

“Safety was our priority and safety was succeeded,” Lt. Yero said. “There was no major incidents last year and we’re hoping to have the same this year.”

On Friday the 24th, cops will once again set up a DUI checkpoint on the causeways entering the beach.

Through the weekend, they’ll use license plate readers to quickly root out stolen cars or owners with outstanding felony warrants.

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