Monday, April 16, 2012

Miami Beach police plan to keep 'weapons and drugs' from getting to city this Memorial Day

Yesterday on "This Week in South Florida," host Michael Putney quizzed Miami Beach City Manager Jorge Gonzalez, Police Chief Ray Martinez and Deputy Chief Mark Overton about the recent arrests by the FBI of city code enforcement officers and firefighters on charges they conspired to shake down owners of a South Beach night club.

Putney also devoted part of the show to a discussion of how Martinez and Overton plan to deal with the upcoming Memorial Day weekend crowds in the wake of last year's deadly police-involved shooting of Raymond Herisse.

Overton, who has been on the job less than a month, showed that he hasn't yet been brought up to speed as he discussed last year's shooting.

Overton told Putney the shooting of Herisse was the result of police trying to stop a stolen vehicle.

Actually Chief, that's not quite right.

From the Miami Herald's June 1, 2011 story:
The police description of events starts a few minutes before 4 a.m. near Collins and 16th Street, where a Hialeah police officer tried to conduct a traffic stop of the Hyundai.

Herisse ignored police and struck the officer, then hit or almost hit several more as he drove south on Collins, slamming into barricades and cars and going onto the sidewalk, police said.

Video shot from a nearby fifth-floor apartment and posted on YouTube shows the car speeding down Collins Avenue amid gunfire and skidding to a stop after four shots rang out. Officers surrounded the car with their guns drawn, and about a minute later fired a barrage of bullets.

Four bystanders were struck by bullets.
And from a Dec. 17, 2011 Herald story:
Still, many questions linger about what led to the shooting. Eleven officers — seven from Miami Beach and four from Hialeah — have been identified by the state attorney’s office as being involved in the shooting. They opened fire, two of them with fully-automatic weapons, on Herisse , a 22-year-old Boynton Beach man, as he rolled to a stop in his Hyundai at about 4 a.m. May 30.

Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega, who recently retired, said before the shots were fired, Herisse was confronted by a Hialeah police officer who attempted to pull him over at Collins Avenue and 16th Street. Herisse ignored the officer and sped south on Collins Avenue, striking that officer with the car and almost hitting several other Hialeah officers as he slammed into barricades and other vehicles. Police said three officers were hurt.

Hialeah officers were on duty, assisting Miami Beach police with the event, which often causes conflict among the young party crowd, police, local residents and the wealthy tourists actively courted by Miami Beach.

“I saw the whole thing,’’ said Rivera, who was standing across the street when she saw Herisse ’s car. “A cop was on a bike, he jumped off his bike and told the guy in the car to get out. The guy didn’t get out and he pressed the gas. The cop jumped aside and started shooting at the car.’’
So, even though four of the officers involved in the shooting were from Hialeah, Overton - who was Hialeah's police chief before being hired by Miami Beach - seems confused about the chain of events that led up to the deadly shooting. Not a good sign.

But, after that misstep, Overton goes on to offer a glimpse into how his department plans to deal tactically with the criminal element this year.

Overton tells Putney, (see video above,) "We're going to put in measures that are going to try to identify and intercept individuals who are coming to the beach in stolen vehicles with weapons...drugs, things of that nature which are actually the problem."

The question is, how do the police plan to "identify and intercept" individuals coming to the beach with weapons and drugs? Roadblocks and checkpoints on all three eastbound causeways? Possibly. Unless I'm mistaken, I don't think this has ever been done before.

The city's 20-page Memorial day battle plan leaked a few weeks ago to Miami New Times uses words like "safety checkpoints" and "lane reductions" on the MacArthur Causeway.

The city has put up a page on its website that explains how it plans to deal with the holiday weekend traffic.

Click here to see Putney's entire interview with Ciy Manager Gonzalez, Chief Martinez and Deputy Chief Overton.

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