Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Beach commissioners met to discuss what can be done to rein in this year’s rowdy, and sometimes violent, Spring Break crowds.
At the emergency meeting commissioners got an earful from residents who say this bad behavior has been going on for at least 20 years but it’s getting worse.
“This is not Spring Break, these are not college kids, maybe there’s a few mixed in. There are people who come here because they know Miami Beach does not do anything about it but talk, talk, talk,” said Nancy Liebman who has lived on Miami Beach for 60 years.
City officials said this year’s crowds have been about a third larger than last year, with more boozing, brawling, and drugs.
Recent video captured a huge beach brawl and another showed women fighting in the street. A third video making the rounds showed a man knocking a woman out.
And sometimes it’s just chaos, like a stampede last Saturday night with spring breakers running in fear. The thing is – no one was sure of why anyone was running.
Commissioners noted that this coming weekend was the last ‘big’ weekend for Spring Break and they needed the police to really crack down on public drinking and open containers on the beach.
“People have to know when they come to our beaches that they can’t get liquored up, you can’t get high, you can’t go on Ocean Drive and decide you’re going to stampede or get in fights,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. “Most importantly for people thinking about coming here to know is that this is not a city where anything goes. If you do something wrong, you’re going to go to jail.”
Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora would like to see more enforcement.
“We’re going to be policing a lot more aggressively on the beaches and that’s just not something we’ve done before,” said Gelber.
Police chief Dan Oates says he plans to add more officers — getting help from surrounding cities.
The plan is to have 301 Miami Beach officers on the street along with 70 from nearby communities, for a total of 371.
Oates said there are also going to be a lot more restrictions.
“It’s almost a full Memorial Day plan with regard to the traffic, the exclusion zones, no parking on Collins Avenue. All of those things are new, we haven’t done those for Spring Break. Essentially Spring Break has become the new Memorial Day for us,” he said.
Gongora said this is a leadership problem and pointed the finger of blame at Oates. But Gelber said now is not the time for that.
“When you are in the middle of tumult you don’t tell the person handling it that you want their head,” said Gelber.
At 6 p.m., a public meeting was held at the Miami Beach Police Department.
Citizens met with the Police Liason Committee at the early evening meeting.
“It’s not an easy job dealing with 15,000, twenty-something a day who are here to revel and party, who do not particularly respond well to our efforts,” said Chief Oates.
Oates explained the plan to get tough on the rowdy Spring Breakers.
The committee is planning a major public meeting to address the Spring Break impact, and the chief is ready to hit the beach.
“We expect Friday is the day we will implement all this, when the crowds are at the height,” said Chief Oates.