Miami Beach is taking a more aggressive strategy to manage this year’s large Spring Break crowds on the island city.
Calling its new operation “Alpha Bravo”, the city is adding 80 more officers from its police department and another 70 from other jurisdictions this weekend. In all, there will be 371 officers this weekend, according to the city. Some of the officers will be outfitted in riot gear.
On Thursday, officers riding ATVs were confiscating alcohol on the beach.
The changes come after city officials held three emergency meetings Tuesday to discuss new approaches to handling the large crowds. Last weekend, brawls broke out on the beach where witnesses captured the chaos on their smart phones and shared them on social media, catching the attention of national and international media.
“The volume of visitors last weekend in part of our entertainment district was unmanageable, as was the behavior of too many visitors,’’ said Miami Beach mayor Dan Gelber.
The city estimated that 602 colleges were on Spring Break last weekend and another 331 will be this weekend.
The police department said it made 97 Spring Break-related arrests as of last weekend with 57 arrested coming from Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The arrests were mostly for drugs and disorderly conduct.
“This is not a place where anything goes, and if that is their reason for coming here, they should go elsewhere,’’ Gelber said.
Last weekend, Miami Beach police made Ocean Drive as pedestrian only; that will continue this weekend. In addition, parking will be prohibited on Collins Avenue between Fifth and 15th streets and along Washington Avenue to keep traffic moving.
A license plate reader that was Interstate 395 (MacArthur Causeway) last week will now be posted at Fifth Street. A license plate reader on the Julia Tuttle Causeway will be posted later at night. The causeway will have two lanes open and one closed from 10 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. March 23, and 10 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday.
And to ensure the safety of its residents in the Flamingo park and south of Fifth street neighborhoods, the city is creating a temporary residential boundary around the Flamingo Park area on Friday and Saturday nights. Residents will need a photo ID to gain entry.
The measures follow a $33,000 public service campaign the city launched this spring to warn college students, “your vacation. Don’t leave on probation.”