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Miami Beach commission votes to stop practice in which more than 90 percent of city’s arrests were later dismissed

South Beach attracts millions of tourists, but lately it’s been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
South Beach attracts millions of tourists, but lately it’s been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – South Beach attracts millions of tourists, but lately it’s been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

There are people who are questioning how safe the city currently is.

On Wednesday, Miami Beach Commissioner Steven Meiner proposed a solution he believes could make a difference.

“Working with our Municipal Prosecution team, I found out that 383 of our 418 criminal misdemeanor arrests by our Miami Beach Police Department were dismissed, either by our Municipal Prosecution team or the judge,” Meiner said.

That’s more than 90 percent of arrests between October 2020 and September 2021, for things like open container violations and trespassing.

The city says that mostly happened because of COVID-19, but Meiner doesn’t believe that’s a good enough explanation.

“Things have pretty much gone back to normal and that number has not changed,” Meiner said. “We’re seeing still a revolving door of arrests and immediate dismissal.”

Meiner proposed the city stop dropping these charges and begin prosecuting any case where the person arrested already has a criminal record. He also wants to also appeal any of those cases that are dismissed by judges.

“Prosecuting the case does not mean the person will necessarily do jail time,” Meiner explained. “It just means there was a legitimate arrest and there are some consequences, whether it be some training program, whether it being a fine. But there’s some consequences to the crime other than outright dismissal.”

The resolution passed in the commission and will officially take effect.

The commission also ordered the city’s prosecution team to keep more data on conviction and dismissals, so they can see how well this worked, or didn’t work in the future.


About the Author:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.