Memorial Day is observed throughout the country to honor those who have paid the ultimate price for protecting our freedom. But on Miami Beach, the Memorial Day Weekend is a holiday that attracts approximately 150,000 to 200,000 visitors looking to party.
Following events surrounding Memorial Day Weekend 2001, the Major Events Plan (MEP) process was created by the City of Miami Beach in conjunction with the city’s partners, the Greater Miami and the Beaches Convention Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), the Hotel Association, area hotels, nightclub and entertainment establishments, area merchants and community leaders.
The goal of the MEP process is to address the impacts of any event that is expected to bring an increased volume in visitors to the City. This process involves a high level of coordination among major City departments. A major component of the Major Even Plan is obviously public safety.
As the Chief, my role is to ensure that public safety services are reflective of the wants and needs of the community. To address concerns expressed by both residents and businesses at the conclusion of the 2011 holiday weekend, the Miami Beach Police Department (MBPD) implemented a multipronged approach to ensure the public safety and safeguard the community’s quality of life. Our approach this year was centered on proactive policing and engaging the public in order to curb the potential for criminal activity.
Traffic mobility and crowd management, along with the strict enforcement of all local laws, were the priorities for Miami Beach Police Officers. The development and implementation of a traffic or “cruising” loop, which routed traffic through and out the City, while reducing impacts to residential neighborhoods, was a critical component of this year’s plan. Police Officers manned posts throughout the route to ensure the integrity of the traffic loop, as well as assist with traffic flow.
MBPD brought together tried-and-true strategies with new technology to assist in curbing the possibility of criminal activity wherever possible. A DUI check point at the MacArthur Causeway, coupled with automatic license plate readers at both the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle causeways, resulted in 21 arrests, 7 DUI arrests, 3 felony arrests, 4 guns seizures and 198 citations issued. The use of 4 Sky Watch Towers with additional lighting and video monitoring capabilities were deployed to monitor crowd conditions on Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and Lincoln Road. 50 light towers were installed along Lummus Park, street ends along the Beachwalk, Collins Park and other locations to make areas safer for residents and visitors.
In total, 373 arrests were made over the 5-day period – almost 15% less than in 2011 – with a majority (85%) of all arrests made for misdemeanors. More importantly, this year MBPD saw significantly fewer calls for service, with only 2,166 calls (versus 2,775 calls in 2011).
By all accounts and measures, Memorial Day Weekend was a success. But it could not be a success without each and every member of the Miami Beach Police Department. As is required each Memorial Day weekend, it was all hands on deck for the MBPD for both sworn and civilian personnel. All 361 Miami Beach Police Officers were scheduled for 12- hour shifts, alongside 155 officers from other jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies. Further complimented by the use of event staff to assist with crowd control at key locations and Goodwill Ambassadors, MBPD Officers exemplified professionalism and showed their dedication to this community. As I said in our roll calls, “the eyes of the world are upon us” and our Officers demonstrated that the Miami Beach Police Department is second to none.