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Dozens of Florida Highway Patrol troopers deployed to Miami Beach to stem spring break violence, officials say

Crowds gather at Ocean Drive and 8th during Spring Break in Miami Beach, Florida, on Saturday, March 18, 2023. (D.A. Varela/Miami Herald/TNS)

Gov. Ron DeSantis is sending dozens of Florida Highway Patrol troopers to Miami Beach to re-enforce local officers patrolling spring break crowds.

“Florida is a law-and-order state. As part of Governor DeSantis’s priority to protect Floridians and keep our communities safe, FHP is ready and prepared to act,” said Dave Kerner, executive director of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Late Friday afternoon, the announcement of the governor partnering with the City of Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County officials to send more than 60 troopers to Ocean Drive and surrounding streets was made, a FLHSMV release said.

The troopers are tasked to patrol the streets, keep order and to prevent “violent, illegal and unruly behavior,” officials said. The sudden deployment is directly connected to violent crimes in the city over the last week.

“Miami Beach has experienced large crowds, gang violence, street racing and roadway takeovers that are dangerous to the public and visitors of the city,” the release read.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told the Herald he is thankful for Kerner and DeSantis for sending more law enforcement.

“I wish we had the curfew, but having more police is always helpful because I think it deters some behavior,” he said. “We are very happy to have them and having another department help is always welcome.”

Hundreds of officers from several agencies — including Miami police, Miami-Dade police and Miami-Dade County Schools police — are already patrolling the streets, Gelber said.

Specifically, Gelber is excited to have more officers to conduct DUI checkpoints and license plate reader operations as he says they are very labor intensive.

“DUI checkpoints are helpful and license plate readers are terrific, he said. “They help take guns off the street…and Highway Patrol typically helps with that.”

This year’s spring break on the beach has already seen two fatal shootings that caused officials to implement a temporary midnight curfew and declare a state of emergency that would force the ban of alcohol sales from liquor stores after 6 p.m. this weekend.

“We are committed to enforcing public safety and look forward to collaborating with our law enforcement partners to prevent disorder and keep the city, its citizens and visitors out of harm’s way,” Kerner said. “We will stay as long as needed and protect the residents of the greater Miami area, and we will have zero tolerance for dangerous and illegal activity.”


© 2023 Miami Herald

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