Miami Beach Police Make Changes For Memorial Day Weekend

Police expect to make more than the 1,010 arrests they made in 2006

By Karen Franklin and Steve Litz
|  Friday, May 4, 2012  |  Updated 8:39 AM EDT
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City officials getting ready for Urban Beach weekend.

City officials getting ready for Urban Beach weekend.

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In an effort to control crowds during Memorial Day weekend this year, Miami Beach Police said they will increase their presence in and around South Beach, The Miami Herald reported.

“What we’re trying to control is just the volume [of people.] We reach a breaking point that we just can’t handle,” Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez was quoted as saying.

In addition to putting paired officers on street corners, some new technological measures include cameras atop towers that enable police to review footage, as well as new license plate scanners that will check vehicle plates in a database.

"The tag reader is only going to flag if it's a stolen car or a stolen tag, or if the registered owner has a criminal warrant," Lt. Eduardo Yero said. "This will not go after minor warrants, traffic violations, things like that."

Police will also hold a DUI checkpoint on the MacArthur Causeway Friday night, the newspaper said.

To control traffic, Ocean Drive will be closed through the weekend and Collins and Washington avenues will become one-way northbound and southbound roads, respectively.

Police expect to make more than the 1,010 arrests they made in 2006, according to the Herald.

Memorial Day is Monday, May 28.

Last year, 22-year-old Boynton Beach man Raymond Herisse was killed after several officers opened fire on his car. Then-police chief Carlos Noriega said Herisse had tried to hit officers with his car.

As a result, several agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, will be monitoring this year's event. The co-founder of the Take Back SoBe movement also said they will be watching closely, the paper said.

John de Leon, the chapter president of the Greater Miami Chapter of the ACLU, said authorities went about the new plans the wrong way.

“Their focus this year is a mistake, and we’re looking very closely at the civil liberties and constitutional implications,” de Leon was quoted as saying.

Another ACLU representative asked why the new plans weren’t considered selective enforcement.

“There were people defecating on people’s dining room tables [during the first Urban Beach Week in 2001]. So on the events where people are defecating on the tables, we’re going to have a different approach than the events where they aren’t,” Commissioner Ed Tobin was quoted as saying.

Either way, the weekend party, which began in 2001, expects to bring large numbers to the beach – and city officials have their major events plan in place.

"Our city is very popular so we need to make sure when popular events happen here, our residents aren't impacted and we can get the flow of traffic and people are safe," Assistant City Manager Hilda Fernandez said.

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