Residents have already made a whole heck of a lot of noise about Miami Beach Police's decision to reduce the Julia Tuttle and MacArthur Causeways to a single lane each so they can log and scan every visitor's license plate to check for active warrants. Though MBPD has been using this tactic since at least 2012, civil liberties activists worry about the implications of placing plate readers all over town, and black visitors arriving for Urban Beach Week
But on the mainland, the Miami Police Department will also increase its presence and monitor its own causeway. MPD will hold a drunk-driving "Saturation Patrol" through Brickell and on the Rickenbacker Causeway from noon to 10 p.m. this Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. MPD says it will flood the Brickell area with officers to seek out drunk or dangerous drivers.
"The goal of this Saturation Patrol is to provide a continuing effort to reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities on our roadways," the department said in a statement. "The operations will consist of traffic enforcement officers deploying to different locations throughout the Brickell NET Service area which have been identified through the collection of traffic crash data and traffic complaints in recent months."
In addition to hunting for drunk drivers, MPD says it will also encourage its cops to watch out for speeders and people driving without licenses, insurance, or seat belts.
The @MiamiPD Traffic Enforcement Unit will be conducting a Saturation Patrol during the Memorial Day weekend, 5-26 - 5-28 in the Brickell Area from 12pm-10pm. News release for info. pic.twitter.com/swYHtj6ShU— Miami PD (@MiamiPD) May 24, 2018
For years, critics have complained that the heavy police presence on Memorial Day weekend is transparently designed to crack down on the mostly black tourists who flock to Miami Beach for the holiday. After MBPD this year announced plans to ticket "loud cars" and possibly arrest noise violators, the NAACP warned that the policy seemed to give cops leeway to harshly punish black tourists. Police-reform critics also warn that targeting drivers for minor offenses such as driving without seat belts or with suspended licenses is often an excuse to harass drivers of color.
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In response to the jacked-up police presence this weekend, the Dream Defenders, a Florida civil rights group supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, encouraged followers to tweet out videos or images of possible police brutality or misconduct using the hashtag #BlackBayWatch.
Happy Memorial Day weekend fam! To those turning up on the Beach this weekend: the cops will be on watch, but we will be too. If anything goes down, record it and post with the tag #BlackBayWatch so we can report it and keep track. Have fun & stay safe y’all pic.twitter.com/69rxsCsvNq— The Dream Defenders (@Dreamdefenders) May 25, 2018
"Happy Memorial Day weekend fam!" the group wrote. "To those turning up on the Beach this weekend: the cops will be on watch, but we will be too. If anything goes down, record it and post with the tag #BlackBayWatch so we can report it and keep track. Have fun & stay safe
Oh, and definitely don't drink and drive.