MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Miami Beach commissioners passed an ordinance in late June prohibiting civilians from getting too close to a police officer after a warning.
The ordinance punishes civilians who are within 20 feet of “of a law enforcement officer engaged in the lawful performance of a legal duty, after receiving a warning not to do so; providing penalties for such violation; and providing for repealer, severability, codification, and an effective date.”
Commissioner Steven Meiner sponsored the resolution and commissioners Mark Samuelian, Ricky Arriola, and David Richardson co-sponsored it.
Here is a partial transcript of the meeting:
Meiner: “This actually was born out of a resolution that I think Commissioner Samuelian had initially sponsored and I co-sponsored where we were supporting a potential … bill in Tallahassee to support our officers throughout Florida that were harassed or interfered within the performance of their legal duties. That for whatever reason, I am not sure, I didn’t follow it, it didn’t get passed committee. But I thought it would be a good idea, and that’s why I brought this item, that we should offer that protection to our officers, and we can make an ordinance change on our own … which is what’s proposed here and passed on first reading. And really what it would allow is officers who are interfered with or surrounded, which we saw during spring break, and unfortunately, we’ve seen on other incidents throughout the country. This would allow our officers to issue a warning, to back up beyond 20 feet and it would allow our officers to issue fines and potential arrests if the person did not stop their sort of interference. And really and I could let the chief talk to this more, but really what can happen and we have seen happen is officers get surrounded and they right now they have limited options on how to break that up. This would give our officers extra ability to protect themselves as well as obviously our residents and visitors who could be impacted by this.”
Samuelian: “I did bring the initial resolution for the state and I am honored to co-sponsor this. I think we need to recognize that some of the behavior we are seeing in Miami Beach and frankly nationwide and the approach towards law enforcement is at a level of, lack of respect, that we haven’t seen in a long, long time, and that is making the work of our force especially difficult. We speak often about wanting visible and proactive policing and I think we need to take every opportunity we can to show support for our frontline officers, so delighted to co-sponsor this and if Commissioner Meiner has moved it I will second it.”
Richardson to Rafael Paz, the acting city attorney: “Is there anything in this provision ordinance that would prohibit someone from videotaping? Because I know that with George Floyd there were some questions about bystanders videotaping the officers, and I know that’s been a topic of conversation over the last year on whether or not that’s permissible activity, so is there anything in this that would prohibit it? Would that be considered harassment?”
Paz: “Commissioner that would not be considered harassing and videoing of our law enforcement officers is legal and permissible under the law.”