Heightened security measures revealed for Urban Weekend
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- Memorial Day Weekend festivities on South Beach, also known as Urban Beach Party, will feature tighter, clamped-down regulations than in previous years, police said.
Authorities met with local homeowners and residents at Miami Beach City Hall Monday evening to discuss any final changes they would like to see made to the plans for Urban Weekend. Officials said the measures they implemented in 2012 ensured it was the safest weekend they ever had.
"On Friday at 7 a.m. ... basically it's game time," said Miami Beach Sgt. Bonny Hernandez. "We close all the streets. More than 600 officers are going to convene onto Miami Beach. Seventy-five percent of them are going to be working at night [and] the afternoon hours, 25 percent during the day."
Watchtowers overlooking Ocean Drive will be erected, and traffic will be restricted to a limited, mapped-out route. "We're going to keep people on the traffic loop, which basically is going to run east in Fifth Street, north on Collins, south on Washington and west on Fifth Street," Hernandez said. "So there's going to be a constant flow of traffic."
Drivers heading east to Miami Beach from the mainland will have to confront an additional traffic stop. "We're also going to have a DUI checkpoint coming eastbound, and that's going to be Friday night," Hernandez said. According to the officer, the measure aims to "try to prevent intoxicated drivers from actually making it onto Miami Beach. We've got a few guns, and this has been 13 years in the making."
License plate readers will scan vehicles on the MacArthur, Julia Tuttle and Venetian Causeways. Hernandez said the extra security stems as a result of a shootout that took place in 2011. "And we know that that individual was wanted for a shooting at Boynton Beach," he said. "We might have prevented that entire incident from happening, and we would have been able to stop him on the MacArthur Causeway."
Greek restaurant chef and owner Demetrios Pynioudis said the three major avenues on South Beach are at the center of the festivities. "Washington, Collins and Ocean Drive, this is the heart of Memorial Day Weekend," he said.
Pynioudis acknowledged this weekend can bring in large revenues for the restaurants in South Beach's entertainment district. "It's the best weekend in the year," he said. The owner of Poseidon Restaurant on 12th Street and Washington Avenue added that the financial gain also brings other obstacles. He said he is still deciding whether the extra money is worth staying open for potentially wild crowds. "The first day we're going to see what's going to be happening, so for sure we're going to stay open all day [Friday] and all night, and then we're going to decide what we're going to do on Saturday and on Sunday," he said.
Authorities said they plan to have police officers on practically every corner south of 41st Street starting on Thursday afternoon of Memorial Day Weekend. They also suggested Miami Beach residents leave their vehicles parked so that they do not add to the massive traffic volume expected during the holiday weekend.
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