Mi­ami Beach po­lice cracks down on noise prior to Ur­ban Beach Week

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By K. BAR­RETT BILALI

MI­AMI BEACH - The Mi­ami Beach Po­lice Depart­ment an­nounced it would be­gin en­forc­ing “qual­ity of life” vi­o­la­tions this week­end.

Teams of of­fi­cers will take to the streets to en­force an or­di­nance “which cites un­rea­son­ably loud, ex­ces­sive, un­nec­es­sary, or un­usual noise,” the depart­ment said in a press re­lease. “Vi­o­la­tions of this or­di­nance may re­sult in an ar­rest.”

Po­lice also an­nounced it will ramp up its en­force­ment of traf­fic-re­lated in­frac­tions.

“The goal is to in­crease pub­lic safety by con­tin­u­ing to en­force laws,” said Mi­ami Beach Po­lice Deputy Chief Rick Cle­ments.

The move to en­force laws of non­crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity comes a week after a com­mu­nity fo­rum to ad­dress years of con­flict be­tween lo­cal res­i­dents and vis­i­tors dur­ing Me­mo­rial Day week­end. Over 300,000 vis­i­tors con­verge upon Mi­ami Beach in an event that is of­ten re­ferred to as Ur­ban Beach Week.

Qual­ity of life polic­ing usu­ally in­cludes the en­force­ment of seem­ingly mi­nor of­fenses such as pub­lic uri­na­tion, openly car­ry­ing of al­co­hol, pan­han­dling, and lit­ter­ing. By fo­cus­ing on these non-crim­i­nal acts, po­lice say they can de­crease the chances of more se­ri­ous crimes from oc­cur­ring.

“Po­lice of­fi­cers need to be think­ing of how to po­lice and not so caught up in the law en­force­ment mind­set,” said Ruban Roberts, pres­i­dent of the Mi­ami-Dade NAACP.

“I am very con­cerned that the po­lice are tar­get­ing a de­mo­graphic group – in this case African Amer­i­cans – and I don’t think it’s the best way to han­dle this type of sit­u­a­tion,” said Roberts.

Roberts mod­er­ated the com­mu­nity fo­rum held last week at the Betsy Ho­tel to ad­dress the re­cur­ring con­tro­versy over Ur­ban Beach Week. City of­fi­cials, po­lice, com­mu­nity lead­ers and lo­cal res­i­dents dis­cussed the prob­lems of noise, lit­ter and crime that have been as­so­ci­ated with the cel­e­bra­tion in the past. He said he had heard there was a plan to ad­dress noise com­plaints, but not any other qual­ity of life is­sues.

“This re­ally would hin­der their progress, both pro­fes­sion­ally, per­son­ally, as well as their life­style, if they get an ar­rest record,” Roberts when in­formed the new po­lice ap­proach to pub­lic safety could lead to the ar­rest of oth­er­wise in­no­cent in­di­vid­u­als.

“The de­ci­sion to en­force this or­di­nance is in re­sponse to many on­go­ing con­cerns by our res­i­dents about ex­ces­sive noise,” said Mar­cia Mon­ser­rat, Chief of Staff for the City Man­ager’s of­fice of Mi­ami Beach.

Mon­ser­rat said the City of Mi­ami Beach does not cur­rently have a noise or­di­nance passed and voted on by their City Coun­cil. In­stead the city has opted to en­force the Mi­ami-Dade County Or­di­nance Sec. 21-28 that reg­u­lates and de­fines ex­ces­sive noise through­out the county.

“The en­force­ment of the or­di­nance is for all vis­i­tors and res­i­dents and was not based on the Ur­ban Beach Week,” said Mon­ser­rat. The city sees an es­ti­mated 100,000 vis­i­tors daily and up­ward of 300,000 on “high im­pact week­ends” like dur­ing Me­mo­rial Day week­end, she said.

Mon­ser­rat said the city would soon present a pub­lic safety pro­gram that will in­clude a traf­fic plan and other ini­tia­tives to main­tain pub­lic safety.

In past years, both the NAACP and the lo­cal ACLU chap­ter meet with the Mi­ami-Dade Po­lice Depart­ment to share con­cerns prior to Me­mo­rial Day week­end.

The NAACP and ACLU have joined to­gether to pro­tect the peo­ple at­tend­ing Ur­ban Beach Week cel­e­bra­tions by pro­vid­ing “po­lice ob­servers” to make sure there are no clear vi­o­la­tions of peo­ple’s civil rights.

These ob­servers, said Roberts, go through a train­ing pro­gram con­ducted by the ACLU to be­come “ambassadors.”

Roberts ac­knowl­edges that with such a mas­sive num­ber of peo­ple, there are bound to be in­ci­dents where the po­lice have to get in­volved. But his bot­tom line is sim­ple. “We sim­ply want to make sure that African Amer­i­cans who are com­ing to town to spend their money feel wel­come,” said Roberts. “They should not feel that they are in a po­lice state.”


SUN AND FUN: Mi­ami Beach at­tracts over 300,000 vis­i­tors for Ur­ban Beach Week.

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