Miami Beach Police retracts policy that would have informed colleges of spring break arrests

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Not even 24 hours after a 7News report, and the Miami Beach Police Department is already walking back on a policy that would have allowed colleges to be informed if a student of theirs was arrested during spring break.

7News first broke the story on the department’s new policy, Wednesday night.

The Miami Beach Police Department’s internal memo stated that a student’s college would be documented in the arrest report.

Sources suggested the reasoning behind the documentation was so colleges could then be informed if a student was arrested.

Miami Beach Police confirmed the information after 7News reached out, adding that Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates sent hundreds of letters to universities and Greek life organizations across the country explaining what they were planning back in December.

The letter also asked school administrators to inform their student body that they will be arrested if they don’t obey the law.

Oates additionally wrote that a follow-up letter would be sent to the colleges if a student was arrested.

However, the department is now changing its tone after the new policy caught several people off guard, including community leaders who were outraged by the news.

“We’ve gotten some feedback from the community that this feels a little, I don’t know, too harsh or something, and that was never our intention,” said Oates. “Perhaps some folks in the community felt that this was a little too much, so we’re going to stop sending the letters out.”

Six letters have already been sent out before the change, including one that notified the president of Norfolk State University that a student had been arrested.

Now, police are sending out new letters explaining that the new policy will no longer be followed.

Several students vacationing in Miami Beach were never open to the idea.

“What happens on spring break is between me and my friends,” said spring breaker Cacie Whitman.

“It’s kind of messed up that we’re halfway across the country, and our school is still in our business,” added Ellie Hansen.

Some students were more understanding.

“They probably just want students to be safe on spring break,” said Alexia Desouza.

Oates said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber was never part of the plan.

However, Gelber said, the new policy was meant to keep the peace.

“My hope is that the fear of getting in trouble will make sure that people don’t behave in a way that gets them in trouble,” said Gelber.

When asked if this was a mistake in hindsight, Oates said, “I don’t know. It was certainly well-intentioned. It didn’t get the reaction that we had hoped for, so we have reconsidered it.”

Oates said his biggest concern was trying to keep order on the beach, especially since he said last year was a mess during spring break and St. Patrick’s Day.

Oates added that he is concerned spring break and St. Patrick’s Day will be the two busiest weekends at the beach this year.

7News asked Oates who was involved in coming up with the policy, but he did not give a clear answer.

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