MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Miami Beach has added more police officers and implemented other measures to help curb the recent spike in violence as Labor Day Weekend begins.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber addressed the changes in a video message released on Friday. Miami Beach City Manager Alina Hudak also sent a letter to the city commission to outline a comprehensive strategy update.
“Let’s talk about South Beach,” Gelber said. “Effective immediately, an average of nearly 40 officers have been reassigned to supplement existing patrols on South Beach.”
The changes also include adding 10 Miami-Dade Police officers every weekend, boosting code enforcement, more park rangers at Lummis Park, increasing homeless outreach, sanitation efforts and parking enforcement.
Over the last several months, the city has seen an increase in violence and rowdy behavior on South Beach, especially in the entertainment district.
Gelber has called for the city to rethink the district and said officers have made over 3,000 arrests in 2021 alone.
“We will throw more police, more code officers at this challenge, but we must acknowledge that it’s just not sustainable,” Gelber said.
The recent killing of 21-year-old father Dustin Wakefield at a Ocean Drive sidewalk café has renewed the calls for change. Wakefield was shot and killed in front of his wife and 1-year-old son.
“This is a 21-year-old man who is visiting from Colorado who senselessly lost his life,” Miami Beach Police spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez said following the shooting.
Some residents said the added police presence is a step in the right direction to curbing crime.
“There’s been an influx of crime that is, quite honestly, pretty frightening,” resident Rob Plevy said.
“You can’t prevent it all, but if you have more presence, you can prevent some of those things from happening,” resident Brandon Pogue said.
However, some business owners, such as Sherbrooke Hotel owner Mitch Novick, said the city needs to rezone the area, and until that happens, he said he fears the city will see more of the same problems.
“Address the zoning, which fuels the carnival-like circus on the street,” Novick said. “My guests, who I’ve been catering to for decades, I tell them, quite frankly, to find alternative vacation destinations. Miami Beach is no longer safe. I’m greatly concerned for everyone’s safety.”
Locals and tourists visiting Miami Beach can expect to see the increased police presence throughout the holiday weekend.
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