Miami Beach police departments are bringing in reinforcements in response to Spring Break Crowds, according to Fox News.
Compared to Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale has reported few incidents and the mayor has welcomed the college students patronage as to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
“It has felt at times like this city is under a level of siege simply from the volume of people that are coming,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said.
“If you have fifty or a hundred thousand people coming there and just half of one percent are rowdy or drunk or high to the point where they need to be controlled, it becomes a situation which is truly chaotic and unmanageable.” He said too many people “coming with a desire to go wild” despite the coronavirus, which poses “a multifaceted peril for us.”
Reinforcements were brought in from the Miami-Dade Police to increase officer presence on the streets.
150 people were arrested over the weekend and two officers were injured in clashes with crowds.
Fort Lauderdale Sgt. DeAnna Greenlaw explained that the department responds to 400-450 large-scale special events throughout the year “outside of COVID.”
“We’re no stranger to large crowds on the beach, and, to date, we’ve only had two arrests that were made – one was for a warrant, and one was for disorderly conduct,” she said. “We’re very pleased with the fact that how everything is running for spring break.”
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean J. Trantalis had a welcoming message for potential visitors, “Hey, come on down.”
“It’s better to be here in Florida than in a stuffy dorm room. It’s better to be here enjoying the fresh open air than it is to be stuck in a home where you’re sheltering in place,” Trantalis said.
“Trantalis continued, “We’ve been pretty good at maintaining the crowds, maintain safety. Don’t expect to come to Fort Lauderdale without wearing a mask, keeping those COVID protocols in place, but so far, things are going well.”
Trantalis said he wanted business owners to have a successful season and keep staff safe despite COVID-19.
“You can help by keeping your employees and customers safe by adhering to the CDC guidelines of facial coverings and social distancing,” the mayor tweeted Monday. “For our visitors, you are the first line of prevention in minimizing the spread of the virus. We can all work together to keep everyone safe.”
However, over the weekend, an 18-year-old woman from Alabama was sexually assaulted in Fort Lauderdale by a man who posed as her Uber driver
Police are reminding visitors and residents to confirm the license plate on the vehicle you’re getting into is the same as that listed on the ride-hailing app.
“We took this opportunity to remind visitors and our residents of those safety precautions when using a ride-share company or ride-share app — all we can do is warn everyone in the community,” Greenlaw said. “We don’t feel spring-breakers are necessarily a target. This could have happened to anyone who’s not paying attention to those cues.”
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But in Miami Beach, police kicked off what was expected to be a busy spring break weekend by shooting pepper balls in order to disperse a crowd that had gathered around officers who were making an arrest. Two officers were injured and had to be taken to a hospital. They were released early Saturday but remained off-duty because of their injuries, the police department said.
James Harrison, 19, of Brooklyn, was arrested on charges of battery on a police officer, resisting an officer with violence, inciting a riot and disorderly conduct. Harrison shouted obscenities at police officers when they tried to break up a crowd of more than 200 people that was blocking traffic, smoking cannabis and carrying around open containers, according to a police report released Saturday.
Harrison then pushed an officer and the crowd surrounded officers who were outnumbered at the intersection in the heart of Miami Beach’s famous nightclub and restaurant district, the police report said, according to The Associated Press. Two officers fired pepper balls “due to the large, aggressive, unruly crowd and the immediate posing threats to officer safety.”