Police step up efforts to control Spring Break crowds in Miami Beach

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A crime crackdown is sweeping Miami Beach after a rough start to Spring Break.

As of Tuesday night, Miami-Dade Police officers will help patrol the city, and Coral Gables Police officers will join the effort over the weekend.

Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements announced the stepped-up effort during a media conference.

“We had originally planned to continue our enhanced staffing effort beginning this Friday. We will now change to do so immediately,” Clements said.

Also, parking garages in the entertainment district will close at 8 p.m. in an effort to keep the beach safe during spring break, Miami’s busiest time of year.

“We’re also prepared to close the MacArthur Causeway, if needed, if gridlock occurs,” Clements said.

On Wednesday, 7News cameras rolled as a man was detained and led away in handcuffs, an example of why Peter Farmer, who is visiting from Hawaii, keeps his chips to Miami Beach short following days of beach brawls and a shooting on Monday night that left a 27-year-old man dead.

“I’ve witnessed some it and heard some of it, but I just try to get out of the area, you know, and not be in the thick of it,” Farmer said.

It’s exactly why police and city leaders have been working to crack down on the chaos.

“Monday night was a horrible night. It was a Monday night; it wasn’t even a weekend night,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. “It wasn’t just a shooting, but it was probably throngs of people almost running through the streets in ways that created danger.”

From February 15 to March 15, police said they have made over 900 arrests, a third of them felonies. Half of those arrested came from out-of-state. Officers have also seized 78 firearms in the process.

“A lot of these are just people coming to get away from the cold, from the lockdown and to let loose and party and that is what we are not tolerating,” said Miami Beach Interim City Manager Raul J. Aguila.

City leaders, however, said they know the efforts from police won’t make the adjustments they ultimately want to see overnight.

As police try to tame the rowdy spring breakers, Gelber is reminding everyone about another big concern that cannot be seen: the ongoing pandemic.

“I think this has become almost a triple threat for the city. We’ve got too many people, which are a problem, and we’ve also got a virus that is still requiring 50 to 100 people to be hospitalized every day in our county,” he said.

City leaders made it clear the problematic areas in the city are Ocean Drive, Washington Avenue and Collins Avenue, between Fifth and 15th Street.

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