Police in Miami Beach have confiscated about 100 guns over the last few weeks of spring break, and at least five people were shot over the weekend. The situation has gotten so bad that local officials declared a state of emergency and instituted a midnight curfew.
“Officers are EXHAUSTED,” the Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police tweeted Sunday, with video of spring breakers swarming officers and cop cars on the town’s popular Ocean Drive strip. “The party needs to end. City officials must take immediate and firm action to ensure the safety of officers and residents.”
At least 371 officers from the Miami Beach Police Department were patrolling the streets over the weekend, according to Mayor Dan Gebler.
The state of emergency followed two shootings in Miami Beach, the first of which left two people with non-life-threatening injuries near Ocean Drive around 12:15 a.m. A third person was later found to have been shot, according to police, but they had already been taken to the hospital.
Almost exactly 24 hours later, police already patrolling Ocean Drive heard gunfire and rushed to the scene, where they found two women shot, also with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Miami Herald. The two victims were rushed to the hospital.
Police later arrested and charged 19-year-old Derrick Mitchell with possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon, and tampering with physical evidence for trying to throw away the firearm he allegedly used while being chased by police.
The newly instated curfew is set to end at 6 a.m. every day and will remain in place until at least Monday, though City Manager Alina Hudak said during Monday’s press conference that she’s already asked the Miami Beach City Commission for permission to extend the curfew to the following week.
Since spring break season began in February, Miami Beach police officers have been working around the clock to ensure safety. Police Chief Richard Clements says his officers have been dealing with a substantial increase in gun crimes that have even put some of them in danger.
“What I saw this year made me look at it and almost cringe,” Clements said at Monday’s press conference. “You see that gunfire was almost 10 feet from an officer who was on an ATV, to dive off the ATV and get behind it, because he didn’t know where the gunfire was coming from. That’s a problem.”
Clements says nine officers have been injured trying to keep the peace in recent weeks, none of whom were shot or sustained life-threatening injuries. Four of those injuries took place over the weekend, according to the Miami Beach Police Fraternal Order of Police.
The disorder in Miami Beach during the months of February, March, and April is nothing new. Nearly one year ago, city officials enacted an 8 p.m. curfew to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which had just seen a resurgence in the U.S. a few months prior. Dozens of arrests were made and local police even began to use SWAT forces and pepper balls to help disperse persistent crowds, outraging local Black leaders.
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