Police Presence Takes Toll on Urban Beach Weekend

This Urban Beach Weekend, party goers on Miami Beach seem to be on their best behavior.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    This Urban Beach Weekend, partygoers on Miami Beach seem to be on their best behavior. They tell NBC 6 that this year's festivities seem safer with the additional police presence. (Published Sunday, May 27, 2012)

    This Urban Beach Weekend, party goers on Miami Beach seem to be on their best behavior.

    "Last year it seemed like the jails had been broken open. This year they use their manners more, they're more approachable," Luis Kondas, who lives and works on Ocean Drive told NBC 6 Sunday.

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    Last year's party was marked by gunfire and out of control crowds.

    "It's changed. Everywhere you look within 20 feet there's a police officer," Kondas said.

    Miami Beach has 550 officers stationed on nearly every corner this weekend. The city hopes new DUI checkpoints, license plate readers and more watch towers stop the offenders, before they get to South Beach.

    "Makes you feel good knowing that you can come and have a great vacation and not have to worry about getting shot," Mesha Bowens, a tourist from North Carolina said.

    "It was very very tight, they were over cautious, they reduced lanes, they arrested a lot of people, I've seen a lot of people being arrested tonight," Satish Venkat, a tourist from Atlanta said.

    The mayhem from last year's Urban Beach Weekend forced many locals to leave town, and apparently chased away many customers from some of Miami Beach's most popular eateries.

    "We do not have as many people coming into the restaurant, especially for breakfast," said Robert Dessommes, the manager at News Cafe.

    He said business is down 50 percent from last year and he's also noticed a change in the crowd.

    "Thanks to the enormous police presence that we've had this year, they seem to be more calm," Dessommes said.

    Police said Sunday they had made 170 arrests so far, 24 of which were DUI related from the DUI checkpoint set up Friday night. At this time last year, police had made 107 arrests, they said.