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Front Page » Top Stories » Miami Beach calling out more police to secure South Beach

Miami Beach calling out more police to secure South Beach

Written by on September 15, 2021
Miami Beach calling out more police to secure South Beach

Miami Beach has asked its police department to reassign more officers to South Beach as officials seek a unified approach to solving policing shortages in that high-visibility, rising-crime area.

In a special commission meet­ing last week, City Manager Alina Hudak outlined the need for South Beach to enhance policing strategy to mitigate crime, including getting ahead of the retirement curve of of­ficers and hiring more of them as the training and screening period permits, and revising off-duty programs.

“It has become a high-impact period every weekend… and any given day we’re not at our full capacity,” she said. “I be­lieve very strongly that anything and everything that we have to do, relatively to our city services and our capabilities and our ability to change what’s happen­ing, has to be comprehensive.”

Commissioner Steven Meiner told the meeting that residents have been raising the alarm that they are changing their routines and lifestyle “because of the sense of not feeling safe.”

“We can’t go out and hire 25 to 50 officers at the snap of our fingers,” he added. “But I firmly believe that zero tolerance and high-level police visibility will absolutely make a dent in what we’re seeing right now and the extent to which we can get assis­tance from any law enforcement would be a tremendous help.”

However, Miami-Dade Po­lice Director Freddy Martinez disagreed with a stance of zero tolerance.

“If you take zero tolerance you will lose the community, you’ll put the police officers in a bad position and you will not get anything done,” he said, “It is with strategies of high vis­ibility, dialogue, quality of life issues, strategic enforcement and communication among other departments in the com­munity that you will curb the violence.”

In any crime plan the city comes up with, Mr. Martinez explained, “you cannot cause a lack of distrust with the community. Whatever plan is developed has make sure that the community is safe, and no one is singled out.”

The Miami-Dade Police De­partment has been working with the City of Miami in developing a plan that, according to Mr. Martinez, made nearly 1,500 arrests, taking about 700 fire­arms off the streets, including in Miami Beach and other cities.

“Murder rates have gone down,” he said, “and it was said that this summer was going to be a bloody summer. That did not happen. In Miami-Dade right now there are 67 murders… mostly domestic and targeted gun violence.”

The county police depart­ment will provide 10 additional police officers Fridays and 10 others on Sundays until Decem­ber. But Mr. Martinez said giv­ing the city 100 officers every weekend is not possible, unless the city had “a real immediate emergency.”

“I have asked [the Miami Beach Police Chief] and he has come back with a plan that reassigns an average of 40 of­ficers depending on the time of day and the time of the week to our streets,” said Ms. Hudak. “I ask and direct our police chief to look at our capacity, to look at our current situation. I’ve asked all of our departments to partner in a unified way and work side by side with our officers to report on our additional resources that I’ve asked to elevate enforcement to another level.”

This includes the code com­pliance department, the fire department, housing and com­munity service department and the homeless outreach team, said Ms. Hudak, all of which will be meeting every Monday morning at her office to review the results of the week “and discuss ideas and evolution of what else can we possibly do.”

“I’ve also asked all of the departments to accelerate any hiring even though we don’t hire until our budgets are reviewed on Oct. 1,” Ms. Hudak told the commission. “I’m not waiting until Oct. 1, respectfully. I have asked everyone to start the re­cruitment process immediately. I believe I have your support.”

“My staff is here today be­cause we’re concerned and we want to come up with the best solutions available to be able to turn the perception around, not the effort,” said Miami Beach Chief of Police Richard M. Cle­ments. “Because the effort has always been there. What I ask is a little bit of time to be able to fill those vacancies, because we can’t get people trained quickly enough. But we’re working on that and over the last two months we’ve hired 21 people. We get one officer out of 10 applicants to meet our criteria.”

Another problem contribut­ing to the ongoing crime scene in South Beach is large-group parties in short-term rentals, said Commissioner Michael Gongora. “While hotels do a better job policing their own occupancy restrictions, the short-term rentals seem to be a free-for-all.”

Mr. Gongora presented the South Beach and Fifth Street Resolution item, and he ques­tioned whether having Ocean Drive completely open to traffic was contributing to the problem of crime.

“It gave pedestrians a space to congregate and business an opportunity to have outside seating during the pandemic,” he said. “But it’s created a void on the streets. Police unions sent us a message saying they think it’s bad. Ambulances can’t get through if there is a serious situation.”

Commissioner Mark Samu­elian added that the city should also analyze South Beach busi­ness models. “We have noise violations, we have code vio­lations, parking… [people are] smoking marijuana on public property,” he said. “That has to stop.”

He asked the city to carefully scrutinize every business as it renews its business permit.

The city should, by year’s end, have a better understanding of how these new approaches have worked, Ms. Hudak said.

“When people are changing their routines, when we have residents telling us over and over again that their life has been upended because of what’s going on,” Mr. Meiner said, “we have to listen.”

One Response to Miami Beach calling out more police to secure South Beach

  1. Craig Meszes Reply

    September 16, 2021 at 5:28 am

    here’s the thing. I live in the 700 block of Jefferson Avenue, for the past 10 years on record I have been assaulted on record 7 times. the reasons I say on the record, is because of when I do contact the police and they show up. they refused to give me a case number pertaining to my call for assistance. I firmly and truly believe the reasons being so the city of Miami Beach statistically speaking not show what is really going on. I have seen at least 10 SWAT teams here. one person was swatted @least three times. The last situation that happened in February of this year. the spokesperson told the news outlets this area has been known to be a bad area. I cannot call the police to my building without being harassed/intimidated and at times having bodily harm. I am disabled and tried to invoke reasonable accommodation under the 1974 disability act.i have an active restraining order from one of my neighbors who I was attacked by. all I asked the police department is to let me come there. the first attempt I was told I needed to bring the court order when I did I was told that I needed to call them to come to my building. when I do they hide or the other people who have attacked me lie for each other.In this article you stated that there was a police officer s, then why do you had three officers who were sitting behind the information desk. At least one of them could of taken the report. the Miami Beach police lack of action has done nothing less than exacerbated my disability. Don’t let get on housing and or how section 8 does or does not report these people during their recertification process. I could go on and on. I feel this attempt is nothing more than a dog and pony show. I have carried mace with me for the last two years and just ordered two more from Amazon this week. I have called everyone from the chief of police office,a detective,a commissioner, my landlord and others. I feel threatened not only on the streets but also from the constant/harassment outside my front/back door. I have installed cameras on my front/back door. I plead/implore the city of Miami Beach to do their job to SERVE and PROTECT.

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