MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - As the holiday weekend quickly approaches, Miami Beach officials are implementing a new safety plan for the increase in crowds as well as the expected chaos.
The Air and Sea Show and the unofficial Urban Beach Weekend are just some of the events set to take place in the Miami entertainment district.
The countdown to the unofficial start to summer is on and crime crackdown is already on the radar with Miami Beach leaders.
“We have a set of officers who are assigned to Washington Avenue, Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive,” said Miami Beach Police Captain Jovan Campbell. “We have far more officers assigned to residential areas than we normally have, and we have officers that are specifically going to be tasked with conducting traffic stops.”
A meeting was held Tuesday night to discuss plans to prevent scenes of chaos.
“I can assure you that this police department has done a lot over the last four to five months specifically to deal with these quality of life issues,” said Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements. “It’s just coming at us at a very quick pace, and it’s going to take some time.”
“Don’t come here if you’re looking to do something that’s stupid or illegal,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.
That’s the mayor’s message as his staff prepares for thousands to flock to Miami Beach for the holiday.
Barricades are already up in some parts of the city.
“Don’t let poor choices ruin your vacation,” said Miami Beach Police officer Ernesto Rodriguez.
And local leaders have launched a social media campaign in an effort to curb bad behavior.
“We’ll be implementing a traffic loop each evening beginning at 7 p.m. Our officers will be enforcing DUI’s — don’t drink and drive. Loud music, open containers of alcohol or drugs of any kind will not be tolerated,” Rodriguez said.
That warning comes as the city has been plagued by violence and unruly tourists for months.
In response: Leaders are moving last call back to 2 in the morning temporarily.
“We the residents of South Beach are very scared,” said a resident.
On Sunday, Collins and 9th was riddled with donuts, burning rubber, and a mid-street brawl that left one man knocked out for a few minutes.
Police made one arrest and that same night, there were three more when a routine traffic stop led to a discovery of rifles, handguns, ammo and a ski mask.
“We’re arresting almost everyone that commits these offenses,” Gelber said.
But even with the promise of arrests, many are still worried about what the holiday weekend will bring to town.
“For the first time, I really want to go buy a gun. For the first time, I really want to protect myself,” said a resident.
Close to 600 officers across Miami-Dade County are expected to work over the holiday weekend on South Beach.
Traffic restrictions go into effect on Thursday.
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