|Illustration by Cindy|
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“This place [Ocean Drive] has turned into a very challenging area that requires a tremendous amount of our police resources to enforce and create safety. We’ve had this conversation many, many times. It’s turning into a Bourbon Street. It’s turning into a terrible place that’s become a blight, a cancer that spreads to our entire city.” -Mayor Philip Levine, quoted in the Miami Herald, April 15, 2015
“I personally walked there at 10:30 at night on a Thursday two weeks ago and I didn’t see one cop.” -Commissioner Michael Grieco
The day after Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine won another two-year term, the Miami Herald reported that Levine had a "to-do list" that included a streetcar system for Miami Beach.
What wasn't mentioned in the Herald story was what Levine planned to do about the continuing deterioration of Ocean Drive...although it was clearly on his mind back at an April 13 commission meeting when he called the street a "blight" and "a cancer that spreads to our entire city."
"Whenever you bring up Ocean Drive anywhere, people are very negative. No residents go there. Locals aren't going there. It's a dangerous place," Levine said.
Levine's solution to clean up Ocean Drive was to propose a ban on 2 a.m. liquor sales at outdoor cafes. Stop selling liquor at 2 a.m. and crime will be eliminated, Levine reasoned. (The ban was approved by the commission and took effect last May 30.)
But while Levine and Grieco say they want more policing on Ocean Drive, the reality is that there are now fewer cops on the street than there were before Levine took office two years ago.
As I reported on this blog a year ago this week, the Miami Beach Police Department is still having trouble finding officers who want to work off-duty jobs at Ocean Drive night spots.
From my Nov. 5, 2015 blog post:
In a letter sent yesterday to Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and the city commissioners, City Manager Jimmy Morales writes:
The following five Ocean Drive clubs, all of which participated to some degree in the previous off-duty program, continue to go without coverage because officers have not volunteered in sufficient numbers to make these work details practical for the Department:
1 The Clevelander - 1020 Ocean Drive
2 Fat Tuesday's - 918 Ocean Drive
3 Mango's - 900 Ocean Drive
4 Ocean's Ten - 960 Ocean Drive
5 Wet Willies - 760 Ocean Drive
Through the Ocean Drive Association, these five clubs have sought to begin off~duty coverage again. They have expressed their willingness to pay for up to four officers a night to cover these clubs. However, despite repeated offers to our police officers of such work and despite several adjustments of the hours and assignments to entice interest, the Department has been unable to get sufficient numbers of officers to volunteer for this nightclub work on Ocean Drive. [Emphasis mine.]
(Less than a month before Morales sent his letter, a drive by shooting occurred at Fat Tuesday on Ocean Drive. Early reports suggested that several members of a notorious Brooklyn gang were involved in the shooting.)
But Levine says there's a plan in place to clean up Ocean Drive and neighboring Washington Avenue.
After a video surfaced last week week that showed a woman being beaten by employees at a Washington Avenue burger joint, Levine told NBC6, "I hate to say I'm happy that things like this are happening because they're horrible and they're sad and we don't want anybody to get hurt, but it brings attention to the people of Miami Beach, let us move forward to clean Washington Avenue up and clean Ocean Drive up."
But just this past weekend, three tourists from Japan say that while walking near 8th Street and Ocean Drive at about 11 p.m. Saturday night, they were robbed of jewelry, a computer and other property valued at $30,000. The tourists didn't report the crime to police until Sunday afternoon.
|via Miami Beach Police Dept.|
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So how's that 2 a.m. drinking ban working out for you, Mayor Levine?