As Memorial Day quickly approaches, the countdown to Urban Beach weekend has begun. Police Chief Ray Martinez said officers will focus on crowds and traffic.
As Memorial Day quickly approaches, the countdown to Urban Beach weekend has begun.
The event, which kicks off Thursday night and attracts thousands of young African Americans from all over the country, has required months of advance planning from the Miami Beach Police Department and other agencies.
“It’s really an issue of capacity,” said Police Chief Ray Martinez. “Earlier today we gave the analogy of a stadium, and you can only fit so many people into the stadium, and that’s really what happens here on Miami Beach and especially in the South Beach area.”
Police have made changes after last year’s celebration was marred by a deadly police shooting in the heart of the area. Some new measures include machines that read license plates, DUI checkpoints and more police watchtowers. An estimated 500 to 600 officers will also be working over the weekend.
Officers said the biggest challenge is managing bot foot and vehicular traffic.
But with rain possibly interrupting Urban Beach weekend, some are saying the weather may be good for crowd control, forcing many guests inside hotels and restaurants.
Some restaurants, already preparing for the weekend, have made special accommodations for their employees too.
“We took measures to secure our staff at the beginning and the end of the shift by shuttling up and down to secure lots where they’re going to park their cars, and there are going to be operations as usual,” said Raul Acosta of Mangos Tropical Café.
Merchants and Miami Beach officials are hoping this Memorial Day weekend, which costs the city $.18 million to host, is memorable for all the right reasons.