MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami)–Visitors lined Ocean Drive Saturday enjoying the holiday weekend on Miami Beach.
“I like the weather. The people are friendly. There’s a lot of stuff to do,” said Chanel Young who’s visiting from Michigan.
“I have fun every year,” added Paris Scott.
Some say this year’s crowd on Miami Beach is smaller than in years past.
“A lot fewer,” observed T.J. Mitchell, who says he’s been coming for the past six years.
Throughout the weekend about 600 officers are keeping an eye on the crowds. They’ve set up lights and towers as well as camera. Police are patrolling on foot, bikes and ATVs.
“Too many,” said Mitchell. “You can’t drink, got to walk around with water. I don’t want to go to jail,” he added.
Stephen Johnson, who chairs the Miami-Dade Black Affairs Advisory Board said, “I don’t mind safety. I mind the fact that instead of feeling safe, I now feel like I’m being investigated. I’m the criminal. That is unfair.”
“Some people like the fact that the officers are here. Some people do not,” said Miami Beach Police Detective Vivian Thayer, adding, “The police presence is not to discourage people from coming to our city. We just want to keep our guests and our residents safe while they’re out here.”
Police said arrests this year are down. So far this year there have been 83 arrests and 702 calls for service.
Last year over the same time period, police say there were 131 arrests and 865 calls for service.
Some people said it’s quieter here than past years. Paul Dimuont is a Good Will Ambassador . “It’s calm. It’s really calm,” he said.
Plenty of visitors also appreciate the police presence.
“I like having it. I think it keeps the trouble down, keeps them in order because they know the cops are right here, so it don’t bother me,” said Chanel Young.
No matter how many people are here, most say they’re here to have fun.
“I’m going to have a good time regardless,” said Scott.
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