Nuisance Offenders Become Growing Problem on Miami Beach

Tourists from all over the world travel to Miami Beach to enjoy the beaches and the bars. However, the tourist hotspot is also a popular hangout for some trouble maker, which is a growing concern for both neighbors and city leaders.

Court records show Steve Silverman has racked up seven criminal cases on his record in the last four months alone. His alleged crimes include robbery, public intoxication and theft.

Silverman has been free to walk to the streets, according to jail records, until this week, when he was arrested again and charged with selling cocaine.

John Deutzman calls Miami Beach home.

He’s matched mug shots with faces spotted around his neighborhood — including Silverman’s.

Heather McCabe and her husband terry shared concerns about seedy characters at a recent city homeless meeting.

“I can’t even let my child walk the dog in my neighborhood — it’s horrible,” said McCabe.

Police records show Silverman is homeless.

Miami Beach has a small unit of officers who only deal with this group.

Numbers show the majority of its arrests are for misdemeanor crimes -- 425 such arrests compared to 39 felonies in the last year.

Repeat offenders are a big problem.

“People that are nuisance offenders, we’ve arrested one, two, 300 times,” said Miami Beach Police officer Jerome Berrian.

These people find their way back to Miami Beach within hours of being arrested.

“We arrest a person at 6:30 a.m. or 8 o’clock and they go to see the judge in the afternoon and then they’re back out at 8 o’clock that night. That’s just the way the system works,” said Officer Berrian.

Ed Griffith is the spokesperson for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

We asked him what more could be done to keep folks like Steve Silverman off the streets.

“Well, first off, it really depends on each individual crime," said Griffith.

He said while most people will see very little jail time for misdemeanor crimes. Concerned neighbors can play a key role.

"If people show up for court and articulate their concerns at these options, then you can get a better judicial response; when people don't respond, when people say it's a pain the neck, when people says I'm really too busy, that is how people fall through this," explained Griffith.

Miami Beach police officers are now doing just that -- showing up to bond court.

Commissioner Michael Grieco supports the city funding a prosecutor who focuses on Miami Beach nuisance offenders to make sure there are real consequences.

The city said funding a specialized prosecutor is an option that will be discussed this summer during budget talks.

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