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Miami Police Control the Chaos on New Year's Eve

Editor's note: Photographer Bill Cooke rode with City of Miami Police to capture the chaos that comes with New Year's celebrations. Click here to view the entire slide show from that night.

Miami Police Senior Officer David Carpenter fills out forms in the breathalyzer room of Miami Police's South District station.
Miami Police Senior Officer David Carpenter fills out forms in the breathalyzer room of Miami Police's South District station.
Photo by Bill Cooke

At 11:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve, David Carpenter, a senior officer with the Miami Police Department, is already filling out paperwork on the night's first DUI arrest. He's in the breathalyzer room at the MPD's South District substation at 22nd Avenue and Flagler Street.

Cops had stopped a 34-year-old man on Eighth Street after spotting him driving slowly westbound on a shredded flat tire. The man -- who has never held a Florida driver's license -- was busted after failing a series of sobriety tests.

At 11:45 p.m., a loud beep tone shatters the silence and a police dispatcher orders, "All units... to seek shelter until 0015 hours."


Though police honchos had pleaded with

citizens not to fire guns in the air at midnight, the big shots are being careful.

At 12:30, after finishing the DUI paperwork, Carpenter says, "I've arrested rapists, murderers, and drug dealers, but female DUI suspects are the worst." In a few minutes, Carpenter is driving slowly through Coconut Grove when he is flagged down by a waitress from Mr. Moe's. She points out a woman who she

says struck her as she walked down the sidewalk in front of the

restaurant. But the waitress wants to get back to work and decides not to file a complaint. Skirmish over.

Carpenter tries to help a man who was found staggering on Grand Avenue in Coconut Grove at 3:30 a.m.
Carpenter tries to help a man who was found staggering on Grand Avenue in Coconut Grove at 3:30 a.m.
Photo by Bill Cooke

Next is a drunk man lying in a crumpled, stinking pile of piss and puke. He says he was drinking at Flanigan's and was walking the few blocks to his

home before collapsing. His wife is called.

About 3:15, Carpenter spots a

man staggering west on Grand Avenue. Carpenter fears the rubbery-legged dude will be robbed or worse, so he flags down a cab. Unfortunately the guy has only $1 for fare, so he's allowed to wobble off.

Shortly before 4 a.m., there's action. Police have arrested two men for disorderly intoxication and they're

now sitting in the back of a squad car. As I walk up, one of the

officers says to me: "Here, take a picture of this." He opens the door

of the cruiser. An almost comatose young man, covered in his own puke, sits in the back seat. Biohazard specialists wrap the man in a plastic sheet to prevent

him from soiling another car.

At 4:30, Carpenter eases his car back onto the Grove's streets and eyes a flashing orange sign

warning drivers not to drink and drive. He wonders why no

reports of any serious accidents have come over the radio and then drives slowly north on U.S. 1, his police radio finally silent.


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