Ultra’s New Security Director Hire Still Has Some Festival Opponents Skeptical
MIAMI (CBSMiami) — After a security failure at 2014’s Ultra Music Festival, organizers for the festival announced Friday the hiring of a top cop. This comes as the Mayor and Miami City Commissioner are trying to ban the event altogether.
The soon-to-be retired Chief of the Miami Beach Police Department, Raymond Martinez, was given the role as their new chief of security.
Martinez has over 35 years of combined law enforcement experience and crowd control expertise. He led and coordinated security for major events like Spring Break, Miami Music Week /Winter Music Conference, and Art Basel.
“As a public servant of this community for almost four decades I look forward to being part of Ultra Music Festival and working with the organizers, local leaders and fellow law enforcement professionals, all of whom are committed to the well-being of the event participants, staff and overall safety of the community,” said Martinez in a statement.
The new hire comes just weeks after the group announced a review into the event’s security procedures after a guard was trampled when un-ticketed festival crashers rushed a fence to gain entry into the popular electronic dance music extravaganza in Bayfront Park.
Security guard Erica Mack, 28, suffered a brain injury and a broken leg due to being trampled. She is now recovering back at home.
“Certainly that shouldn’t happen–so that’s part of my role,” said Martinez.
The group said earlier this month they would work with the Miami Police Department to find ways to improve security outside the gates to prevent future incidents.
Commissioner Marc Sarnoff has been one of Ultra’s most outspoken opponents. In an interview with CBS4’s MaryAnn Martinez, he questioned if Ultra will really listen to Martinez.
“Unless Ultra starts listening to its head of security—and it didn’t do so when it was a former City of Miami police officer—it’s nothing more than window dressing,” said Sarnoff.
Sarnoff said that Ultra doesn’t stop attendees from carrying backpacks and they don’t ban people under 21—both of which he believes most security chiefs would recommend.
“I wouldn’t have agreed to work with them if they wanted a yes man,” said Martinez.
Martinez’s hiring doesn’t change how Sarnoff and others feel about Ultra.
“I am pushing for Ultra to be moved to a proper venue; Marlins stadium, Homestead Racetrack, Magic City,” said Sarnoff.
Martinez says that Ultra has promised that he will have the budget that he suggests to secure Ultra as he sees fit.
Various issues had caused local public officials to call to an end to the festival but instead, a resolution to ban the festival was withdrawn and the Miami Commission was asked to discuss the future of Ultra in the city during a commission meeting on April 24th.