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How should Miami Beach respond to rowdy spring breakers?

By CBS Miami Team,

2023-03-22

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Miami Beach asks for help to control spring breakers 03:13

MIAMI -- A state lawmaker is advocating for Miami Beach to bring in additional officers to quell unruly behavior even as some are saying the city should resort to tactics it used to crack down on illegal behavior during previous Memorial Day events.

State Rep. Fabian Basabe, whose district includes the island, said the city's mayor has asked Tallahassee for 60 officers to help Miami Beach police next weekend.

Miami Beach last year saw half as many arrests during Memorial  Day weekend as in 2021, according to city leaders.  It was also a fraction of the trouble seen in 2017 when police responded in large numbers to shootings.

Following two fatal shootings, Miami Beach declared a state of emergency and implemented an emergency midnight curfew, the third consecutive Spring Break in which the city resorted to an emergency order.

"We need to do better," Basabe said. "I am worried for the residents. I'm worried for our tourists. I'm worried for our businesses. (Mayor) knows how things work. You've got an entire year to plan for this and he knows how appropriations work. If you need help you need to be able to ask for it.  You have to be able to work together."

Miami Beach visitors out and about on Tuesday. CBS News Miami

Lawyer and resident Melba Pearson said she wants more collaboration, too.

"When we hear rhetoric that we don't want Spring Break on Miami Beach, etc., it's like being in (Las Vegas) and saying we don't want casinos," she said. "Miami Beach is a beach. It is a destination."

She saw the Air and Sea Show displace Memorial Day weekend crowds and thinks the city can duplicate it with more diverse events for Spring Break.

However, Miami Beach Vice Mayor Steven Meiner said replicating the success is tricky.

"I'm just going to be blunt," Pearson said. "Our commission and our mayor has turned a deaf ear to the repeated offers by various organizers and party planners and promoters that are willing to do this."

While the city commission plans its next move, Basabe expects better.

"You need to understand Miami Beach is our crown jewel for Florida," he said.  "This is America's Riviera.  It's a major source of revenue for the state.  This is something needs to be protected and we're going to work together whether they like it or not."

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