In a Letter to Commission, Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales reported a 5.96 percent reduction in violent crime and a 9.88 percent reduction in property crime. But the news is not all good. When you break the numbers down, burglaries were up by 17% and rape was up 77%.
Miami Beach Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez talked with RE:MiamiBeach about the numbers. First, about the rape and burglary categories: “Any form of sexual battery is completely unacceptable,” he said. “We investigate these thoroughly and our main objective is to bring some sort of resolution to the victim. Recently there’s been a lot of social awareness brought forth primarily by the #MeToo movement where I think it has empowered women to come forward and report these types of crimes and that is certainly something that we encourage and that we will continue to investigate thoroughly.” Rodriguez noted the MBPD has an outstanding relationship with the Roxcy Bolton Rape Treatment Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital where women are met by a detective and are able to get the treatment, support, and help they need. MBPD also offers a women’s self-defense course. It’s a four-hour, hands-on course, normally held on a Saturday. There is no set schedule, rather Rodriguez says they’re held once there are enough applicants. Sign up here.
The increase in burglaries, he said, is largely due to an increase in hotel burglaries, often involving key card access or access to other locking mechanisms. Rodriguez said MBPD has good relationships with the security directors of the larger hotels, particularly, and recently held a hotel symposium to discuss crime prevention.
As a prevention measure, MBPD also offers security surveys to all businesses and residents of Miami Beach. Rodriguez says they utilize the CPTED method: Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. “There’s a lot of basic crime prevention principles that a resident or business can apply to their home or business to make it less desirable for the criminal,” he said. These include looking at how high your hedges are, your tree canopy, lighting, etc. Cameras might also be an option. “The goal is to make your home or business less desirable for the criminal,” he says. “Lighting is a huge component of crime prevention.” If you're interested in a free crime survey, contact your Neighborhood Resource Officer here.
For South Beach: Deborah Martineau
Mid-Beach: Eliut Hazzi
North Beach: Julio Blanco
Back to the good news. “The numbers are, I’d say, remarkable in terms of the reduction of crime,” Rodriguez said. “Are there areas of improvement? Absolutely. That’s one of the goals the Chief [Dan Oates] has to surpass the previous years’ numbers and improve on what we need to improve on in those areas.”
“Any reduction in crime is huge,” he added. “To have the reduction in crime that we experienced, it’s a true testament to the dedication of the frontline officers, the officers who are actually out there on the street, engaging with the community, not only to prevent crime but arresting folks who do commit crimes and making it very clear that crime is just not permitted here on Miami Beach. We do everything we can to deter criminals from coming to Miami Beach and ruining the Miami Beach experience.”
In his Letter to Commission, Morales also commended “the excellent work of the men and women of the Police Department and the support they receive every day from our city leadership and community”.
Among the highlights in the crime report, Morales wrote:
- MBPD Officers made 13 percent more arrests in 2017.
- Self-initiated calls for service by our officers increased by 20 percent, with much of this increased activity focused on the Entertainment District.
- MBPD further refined its crime strategy meetings and approach, becoming still more effective at directing resources toward hot spots and known repeat offenders.
- MBPD’s Homeless Liaison Unit was particularly effective in addressing certain areas that presented chronic, troublesome crime and quality-of-life problems.
- The Department expanded its beat officer efforts in Mid-Beach, particularly in the beach walk/boardwalk area and along the 41st Street corridor.
- The Department deployed extensive resources to Ocean Drive, Lummus Park and Entertainment District, including the regular use of the Overlap Shift on Ocean Drive on weekend evenings.
- Patrol teams with mobile license plate readers were regularly deployed along the 5th Street corridor/MacArthur Causeway entrance to the city and other select areas on high-volume weekends.
- DUI arrests increased by 23 percent.
- The Department was increasingly effective at using fixed license plate readers and surveillance cameras to intercede to prevent crime or to promptly catch suspects afterward.
- Community policing/problem solving efforts in general, across the city, were particularly successful in 2017, with effective partnerships between the Area Police Captains, their teams and neighborhood and community leaders.
Morales also commended the new local crime prevention group: “The Police Chief and I also believe that the vigilance and advocacy of the Facebook group known as ‘Miami Beach Crime Prevention and Awareness,’ newly established in 2017, made a significant contribution to our overall crime reduction in 2017. This group has been particularly successful in alerting the Police Department to suspicious activity and to the location of wanted suspects. The group has also engaged in very effective courtroom advocacy that has resulted in the setting of higher bonds, more jail time and stay-away orders for chronic offenders.
“Miami Beach Crime Prevention and Awareness started their advocacy in September. Among the persons this group has focused on, as of today’s writing approximately 30 persons who were chronic offenders in the Entertainment District, particularly along Ocean Drive and Lummus Park, are either convicted and sentenced to jail, in jail awaiting trial, in some form of institutionalized treatment, or subject to court-imposed stay-away orders from all or a portion of the city. Because many of these individuals were frequent, even prolific in committing crimes, their absence from Miami Beach is almost certainly a factor in the City’s overall crime decline. There is evidence that some of these chronic offenders have even left the City for good.”
Rodriguez said “[The group] is well received, not only by the Police Department, but I think by the community overall. The founders of it are very dedicated. It’s easy to create a Facebook group, to create a blog or something like that, and vent your concerns. The difference with this group is, not only is it a platform for folks to share their concerns, but we have a group of people who are acting on their concerns and dedicate a lot of their own time to ensure that those who are arrested are actually held accountable by the court system. And I think it’s what sets this movement apart from many others.”