MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Miami Beach police will be out in force over the next three days in an effort to keep sometimes rowdy Spring Breakers in check.
Officers on the beach and on the streets will be enforcing a strict zero-tolerance policy for illegal activities.
The crowd control barricades are up on Ocean Drive and the street is closed for the rest of the weekend. That’s just one of several things police are doing to keep the crowd under control.
Goodwill ambassadors and police are checking all bags going onto the beach. They’ve limited access to just two points. And there are big signs up making sure people know they can’t bring alcohol and drugs onto the beach.
“Not everyone’s here to party and be crazy and get drunk and whatever, so it’s nice that it’s respectful for people who aren’t trying to do that, they can just relax on the beach and it’s safer for everyone,” said visitor, Izzy Muller.
There is plenty of police on the beach to enforce the booze ban and make sure the crowd stays peaceful.
“I think it’s a good idea to have the police presence, that way it can cut down on the violence and stuff like that,” said visitor Demesha Lampkin.
“What we’re prepared to do if necessary is have teams of officers enter these large crowds if they begin to get rowdy also to remove alcohol or possible narcotics that are in there,” said officer Ernesto Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department,
After last weekend’s viral videos showed numerous fights around the South Beach entertainment district, police and city officials wanted to crack down and get a handle on it before it happens again.
They hope cutting down on the day drinking will make things smoother later.
“If we feel we’re controlling this from the onset before people are getting too drunk or consuming narcotics, hopefully, we’ll have a better outcome later throughout the evening,” Rodriguez said.
More than 370 officers will be on the streets during peak times and they’ll be at every intersection on Collins and Washington Avenues.
“Obviously, it would be nice if you didn’t have to have police but it’s especially if there is fighting just to have some authority here to break it up before it gets too intense or somebody actually gets hurt,” said visitor Emily Nason.
Two or more officers will be stationed at the intersections of 5th Street & Collins Avenue and 5th Street and Washington Avenue. Officers are also being deployed at fixed posts at every intersection on Collins and Washington for a 10 block stretch.
“We’re talking from 5th Street to about 15th Street which is our entertainment district which is where all of this is concentrated, that’s where we are putting our focus,” said Miami Beach police Officer Ernesto Rodriguez.
Two dozen officers in protective gear will patrol the beach throughout the weekend and seize alcohol and drugs. They will also be at the ready to break up any fights.
“It makes me feel more safe being here as a college student, as a woman, being in an area like this, it’s really important to feel safe,” said Spring Breaker Isabelle Pop.
“I guess they gotta do what they gotta do but if it’s going to be like this every Spring Break, just let us have fun,” said another student.
Officers will be cracking down on drinking, fighting, and drug use.
“Our number one priority is the safety of our officers but also our residents and visitors,” said Rodriguez.
It was the outrage of residents earlier this week that prompted the ‘get tough’ policy.
Some Spring Breakers said they welcome the change.
“I think it’s important, especially since young people might not always do the right choices in life and there’s going to be people that act on that,” said one student.
Barricades and all-terrain vehicles will be used to disperse crowds and prisoner transport vans will be parked on the beach to remind Spring Breakers to obey the rules.
The city is also be taking new steps to protect the residents in the Flamingo Park and South of Fifth neighborhoods, the two residential zones immediately abutting the entertainment district. They will establish a residential boundary around the entire Flamingo Park area, which will take effect both Friday and Saturday evenings. Flamingo Park residents should carry a photo ID with them to access the area.
There will be no parking on Collins Avenue in the entertainment district.
The MacArthur Causeway License Plate Reader detail, that was previously on the causeway, has been moved onto 5th Street, and the Julia Tuttle Causeway LPR detail will commence later in the evenings. This change aims to balance public safety without compounding traffic woes. The Julia Tuttle will have two lanes open at all times and one lane closed this weekend during the following times: Friday, March 22, 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.; Saturday, March 23, 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.