Miami Beach residents respond to NYT article on crime along Ocean Drive

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Many South Floridians are talking about a story published in the New York Times over the weekend about some troubling incidents taking place on Miami Beach.

A lot of people who live along South Beach had an overwhelming response to the article, where a lot of the focus was on how much Ocean Drive has changed over the years in terms of crime, and many are now wondering if the crime will affect tourism.

South Beach is known as a place to have a good time, but it’s being overlooked with crime on the rise. “That’s why we didn’t even think of staying here for the night. We’re just here for the day,” said one tourist from Poland. “We knew that it’s not for us.”

Mitch Novick, the owner of the Sherbrooke Hotel, located a block off the strip, was quoted in the New York Times article. He called Ocean Drive a “carnival-like crime-ridden circus.”

“I thought it was a fair and balanced report,” Mitch Novick told 7News.

Many nights, his hotel surveillance cameras are full of police action. “Just absolute mayhem,” Novick said. “We’ve had a murder, we’ve had a horrific sexual assault. Multiple shootings.”

He blames the noise and said Miami Beach leaders aren’t doing enough.

However, Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola, also quoted in the New York Times article, said they’re trying.

“For the past 20 or so years, Ocean Drive has been on a slow decline, and what we’re trying to do here on Miami Beach is to restore it back to its luster,” Arriola said.

They’ve added more police officers, more lighting and even hired private security. “If you’re a criminal, you better stay off Ocean Drive, because our police will catch you,” Arriola said.

Novick said the police do all they can, but it’s the bars and the noise that contribute to the crime.

The New York Times article brings back memories of a 1981 Time Magazine cover titled “Paradise Lost?” In its depiction of a city of crime and drugs, it became a public relations nightmare.

Now this national exposure is coming right at the start of the busy tourism season.

“What has happened to this community is shocking, and our leaders refuse to do anything about it,” Novick said.

According to Miami Beach Police, crime is down on Ocean Drive since the city added more police officers. Many in the area, however, believe the only thing that will really make a difference is changing the closing time for bars from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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