MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber has a message for tourists in South Beach this weekend: "Stop drinking! Stop smoking pot! You know, you have got to behave."
During a Tuesday meeting, Miami Beach commissioners struggled to come up with solutions to put a stop to the violence captured on social media posts during spring break.
While Commissioner Joy Malakoff considered banning social media posts of rowdy and violent behavior, Commissioner John Elizabeth Aleman said she wants to find ways "to make it a lot less fun to be" in South Beach.
For John Deutzman and other Miami Beach residents at the meeting, the videos are evidence of an urgent quality of life issue that needs to be addressed.
"We've got people beating each other up in the streets, nobody can go out safely," Deutzman said. "You can't go to the beach safely. Our cops are working 15-18 hour days. It's a public safety emergency."
Police officers face a challenge. The hospitality industry wants them to be welcoming, but some residents don't want them to be lenient. The social media videos are both a publicity nightmare for the industry and a threat to residents' property values, so as result of the complaints, the officials' solution was to issue a killjoy mandate.
City Manager Jimmy Morales promised to stand behind police officers as they move to take a tougher stance. He said it is going to be challenging work and at times "it won't be pretty," but he is going to allow officers "to do everything they need to do to take control of the beach."
With the support of Morales and Gelber, Police Chief Daniel Oates said he plans to have more police officers on duty during this busy spring break weekend.
"Some of the videos I have seen are very, very disturbing, so this is the plan to address it," Oates said about getting more help from other law enforcement agencies starting Friday.
The chief will be placing two police officers on every corner of Ocean Drive and Washington Avenue, between Fifth and 15th streets, from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Oates is under pressure. Commissioner Michael Gongora, an attorney with no law enforcement experience, said he wants Oates replaced because residents are being "held hostage."
"The lawlessness has to stop," Gongora said.
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