MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Barricades are being deployed and signs banning parking are being readied as Miami Beach prepares for a massive influx of party-goers this weekend.
Memorial Day weekend on Miami Beach caps off Urban Beach Week.
Thousands of people are expected to pack South Beach for a weekend of partying. In the past, crowds have surged from upwards of 300,000 to 350,000 people over the long weekend. Many locals leave town or hole up in their homes.
The party on South Beach begins Thursday night and wrap up late Monday night.
To handle the massive crowds, Miami Beach police have cameras, both mobile and stationary, installed throughout the city. Eighteen cameras placed throughout the city, in partnership with the Miami-Dade Police Department, will help alert officers if trouble occurs.
“When a crowd develops, people watching those cameras can let the officers know, ‘Hey, please respond to that area. Make sure everybody is safe. Make sure nothing is developing or becoming a problem’.”
The goal is to avoid chaos, like the incident that occurred two years ago when officers shot and killed a man they claim was driving erratically on Collins Avenue, by preventing it.
Also ready to be deployed throughout the city of Miami Beach are a total of 62 light towers, twelve visual messaging boards and three watch towers.
In addition to extra bikes and ATVs, the Police Department has a new vehicle on loan referred to as an LTV – a $140,000 light tactical all-terrain vehicle, similar to the ones used in the military.
Roughly 400 officers per shift from multiple agencies will pack the streets of Miami Beach.
Police will use license plate readers on the causeways to quickly scan for stolen vehicles or owners with outstanding felony warrants.
A massive DUI checkpoint is planned for the MacArthur Causeway heading into the beach on Friday night.
Ocean Drive will be closed to vehicle traffic and a traffic loop will be in effect between Collins Ave. and Washington Ave.
Miami Beach wants to minimize the impact for residents so certain streets will be open for local residents only.
Those road closures start Friday and will remain closed until Tuesday.
For crowd management purposes, a traffic loop will manage public traffic along 5 Street, Washington and Collins avenues.
Alton Road will remain two-way traffic. Barricades will restrict residential areas to “Local Traffic Only” (residents may be asked for Miami Beach ID). East/west streets (100 and 200 blocks) will be restricted between Washington Avenue and Ocean Drive, 6 to 15 streets. Local residents with the properly zoned decals will be allowed to park.
Ocean Drive will be closed to vehicular traffic Friday, May 24, 7:00 a.m. through Tuesday, May 28, 7:00 a.m. Some access to the east/west streets (100 and 200 blocks) between Washington Avenue and Ocean Drive, 6 to 15 streets, will also be restricted. Local residents with the proper zoned decals will be allowed to enter.
Collins Avenue will be one-way northbound nightly 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. (Friday – Monday). No street parking will be allowed on Collins Avenue between 5 and 15 streets as those lanes will be used to extended pedestrian pathways.
Washington Avenue will be one-way southbound nightly 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. (Friday – Monday). Access to east/west streets between 5 and 17 streets will be restricted.
Alleys must be maintained clear of vehicles at all times and will be strictly enforced.
The City will also continue using Goodwill Ambassadors. The program was started more than a decade ago, after the huge crowds attracted by what was then known as “Hip Hop Weekend” angered and intimidated residents, and led to what many called excessive police response and hundreds of arrests.
Goodwill Ambassadors, all wearing red shirts, will assist with crowd control issues, report service issues that need immediate attention and answer visitors’ questions.
Last year, police made more than 300 arrests.
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.
Police say they hope their tactics and equipment will control the crowds that come to town not just for club events but for the jam-packed, non-sanctioned street parties on Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue that have come to define the weekend since 2001.
Unlike major events such as the Miami International Boat Show, Super Bowl, South Beach Wine and Food Festival and Art Basel Miami Beach, the City of Miami Beach does not sponsor any of the Urban Beach Weekend events.