Slightly more than half of those arrested at Miami Beach over a period including spring break live outside of Florida, city data show. Additionally, more than a third of the citywide arrests were for felony charges.
According to the Miami Beach Police Department, 1,050 arrests were made over the past six weeks, starting Feb. 3, shortly before the city ramped up its police presence to account for the popular spring break period starting mid-February.
On Saturday, the city declared a state of emergency in its entertainment district, establishing an 8 p.m. curfew due to the influx of spring breakers who inundated the city. A crowd on Ocean Drive refused to submit to the curfew later that evening, and that was when officers in bulletproof vests released pepper spray balls to break up the party, according to The Associated Press. A curfew-defying crowd showed up again Sunday night.
Of the overall citywide arrests, 542 were for individuals who reside outside of Florida and 398 were felony arrests, according to a Sunday letter from interim city manager Raul Aquila to Mayor Dan Gelber and the Miami Beach City Commission.
A majority of the arrests – 636 total – were made in the city’s Art Deco Cultural District, also the same area where most of the felony arrests were made – 236.
There is simply too much disorder for the police department to handle, Gelber told USA TODAY on Saturday.
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“We’ve got too many people and too many looking to act out while there’s a pandemic going on.”
The city also has implemented “zero tolerance for all of our ordinances,” Gelber said, which means Miami Beach Police are making arrests for having open containers and more.
Other Miami Beach arrest breakdowns for the past six weeks include:
- 102 firearms were seized;
- 278 of those arrested involved public consumption of drugs;
- 126 of those arrested involved public consumption of alcohol;
- 182 of those arrested involved obstruction and resisting arrest;
- 438 misdemeanor arrests occurred citywide.
Less than an hour from Miami Beach, people are taking spring break in Fort Lauderdale. But they aren’t having the same experience as vacationers visiting their South Florida neighbor.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis told USA TODAY that he doesn’t expect “hoards of people” to flock to Fort Lauderdale despite conditions changing for spring breakers in Miami.
“We expect a certain amount of young vacationers to come up to Fort Lauderdale since the bar and restaurant scene is under an 8 p.m. curfew (in Miami Beach) and a lot of people have come down here expecting to enjoy themselves later into the night,” Trantalis said. “Fort Lauderdale has no curfew. However, our spring break scene has been well-behaved; people come down here knowing we have strict COVID restrictions.”
Trantalis added that they’ve seen “nothing but good behavior” apart from a few outliers.