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Miami Beach Police Department Cleanup Report

Miami Beach Police Department Cleanup Report

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Published by davidwalters

MBPD has done a bang up job cleaning up the South Beach Entertainment District

MBPD has done a bang up job cleaning up the South Beach Entertainment District

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categoriesBusiness/Law
Published by: davidwalters on Jan 16, 2013
Copyright:Public Domain

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09/17/2013

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MIAMI BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT CLEANUP REPORTBy David Arthur WaltersJanuary 2, 2013The Miami Beach Police Department has done a bang up job cleaning up the streets of the SouthBeach Entertainment District. It is the difference between night and day. Merchants and residentshad grown sick and tired of the behavior of the derelicts, vagrants, and panhandlers populatingSouth Beach, many of them on a permanent basis. The pet peeve was taken to the city managerand city commissioner but to little or no avail. One commissioner even said that the touristsappreciated seeing
the beach’s “colorful characters
,
so to run them off would hurt the touristindustry.Eventually the police brass had heard enough, and responded to the clamor. If there is one thingcops do far better than city officials, it is respond to calls. The police chiefs are modest, butknowledgeable sources claim that the police chiefs should get 100% credit for the recentimprovements, the most resounding achievement thus far being its massive 2012 approach to thegreatest public nuisance of all, Urban Week, corralling the crowd and ridding the annual event of criminal fringe elements, affording law-abiding visitors a safe and exciting goodtime.Not to worry about the homeless, for faith in the liberal screed has not been lost. There arealways plenty of beds and food and recovery programs for the homeless. A December 2012internal police communication states:
When dealing with homeless persons, we always offershelter. We also offer free bus tickets back to the city or state that they came from. We do nothave homeless families living on our streets: they are helped the second we find them. Themajority of our homeless population chooses to be homeless and live on the streets. That is theirway of life.
The truly unfortunate will take advantage of the assistance providing that the police department
in cooperation with the city’
s homeless outreach team show them the way. Too often in the past,
 
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police officers might excuse the plethora of desperate people on the streets by blaming t
he city’s
homeless outreach personnel. No doubt they
deserved part of the blame along with the city’s
negligent commission and top administration.For example, I called 911 in 2010 to report a possible emergency next to a luxury hotel onWashington Avenue, where a woman had been living for several days on the sidewalk, and in adoorway next door, despite complaints from the hotel management to the police and homelessoutreach. She was partially nude, convulsing deliriously in her own waste. The 911 operator toldme that the woman had a civil right to recline there, and that I might call the homeless outreachteam if I wanted. I had not found the homeless program very effective in the past, and thissituation appeared to be an emergency. It was only after I persisted, noting that the woman was
 probably someone’s mother, sister, and daughter, and might die there due to official negligence,
that a patrol officer was sent to the scene.Destitute individuals who refuse assistance may choose to make the streets their home, swiping apurse or a bite to eat and a drink from the store when the food allowance runs out, getting high,conversing and squatting on sidewalks and at bus stops, relieving themselves here and there,laying themselves down in doorways if not on the beach and in parks, sometimes masturbatingpublicly in broad daylight, and otherwise enjoying the good life. It is not fair to call themhomeless, for they make the street their home. Better to call them houseless because they do notlive in houses.Some of the above are chronic panhandlers. Their hands are generally not out for food, whichthey can get without cost from the food programs, but for money to support their lifestyle. A fewwould take a job if offered, but not many. A few of the panhandlers live in subsidized housing onand off the beach, commuting to their favorite area to supplement the dole or social security, orto professionally ply the trade. Their calling is reinforced mainly by tourists who tend to be morevulnerable to pathetic pleas while on vacation, not understanding that their generosity is adisservice to the visited community. Everyone concerned would be better off if the police orhomeless outreach team were called, and funds donated to a bona fide charitable organization.South Beach is not a very good market for panhandlers. Pickings are rather slim. Theprofessional panhandlers one might encounter on South Beach are rarely as successful as theirpeers in big liberal cities up north, where $50 or more might be gotten in relatively few hours.I recall the double amputee who pulled himself miserably from car to car while begging on theNew York subway system in the summer: he wintered in a nice house he had purchased inFlorida for the purpose. The customary way to beg on the subways cars, where beggars had acaptive audience, was to recite a litany of misfortunes that reduced one to the begging: one poorfellow retired empty-handed after reciting his list one day, when a cynical passenger shouted thathe should just kill himself. A panhandler who commuted to an uptown neighborhood on theWest Side appeared to be terribly crippled, barely upheld by two crutches, while working, but hewould straighten himself up, fold up the crutches, and jump over the subway turnstile to returnhome from work. Another man liked to run up to commuters in the morning and ask them forcab fare, saying his wife had been killed and he needed to get to the morgue right away: I said
 
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she could wait an hour at least, so he should walk to the morgue instead of disgracing hermemory by begging.I was approached on
South Beach’s
Washington Avenue last week by a well dressed young manwho was holding out a dollar bill. I thought he wanted change, so I stopped and let him engageme, but he said he needed another dollar bill for the bus fare because his new shoes hurt his feetbadly and he had lost his wallet. When I refused, he followed me down the street until I pulledout my phone to call the police. A few days prior, another well dressed young man asked me forbus fare at the bus stop, but I knew he had no intentions of getting on the bus. When I said I wassurprised to see such a nice looking fellow panhandling, he said he was not panhandling, pulled aconceal-and-carry permit from his wallet, claimed that he was an undercover police officer, andthreatened to have me arrested for obstruction. I called the police and he disappeared in a hurry,two squad cars arriving three minutes later.In some cities, ordinances licensing or permitting panhandling in designated areas specificallyoutlaw fraudulent begging behavior. However, Miami-Dade County, which includes the City of Miami Beach, does not issue licenses or permits for panhandling. Section 21-31.4 of MiamiDade County Regulations prohibits panhandling that obstructs pedestrian or vehicular traffic, andthe ordinance also prohibits begging aggressively, defined as begging with intent to intimidate orin such a way that would cause a reasonable person to feel fearful hence compelled to give apanhandler something of value. Intimidating acts might include touching, following, abusivelanguage, and threatening gestures.For example, I observed aggressive panhandling last week, from the second floor of a buildingoverlooking the intersection of Washington Avenue and 13
th
Street. A man approached a man atthe bus stop from behind, and nudged him. When the mark turned around, the panhandlerbehaved as if he were severely handicapped: he contorted his body and collapsed on the sidewalk with his hands clasped in prayer. When the mark refused to give money, and walked away, the
hustler stood up, staggered after him, and reached for the man’s pocket.
That angered thegentlemen, who put his parcel down and threatened to strike the predator, at which time the
 panhandler’s accomplice approached from a quarter 
-block away to protect him. A bystander whohad been watching the scene unfold joined the intended victim, and they chased the culpritsdown the block into an alley.The first panhandling offense under the Miami Dade County Regulations is punishable with afine of not more than $100 and not more than 30 days imprisonment. The second and subsequentviolations are punishable by a fine of not more than $200 and not more than 60 daysimprisonment.As for the City of Miami Beach, Chapter 74 of the City of Miami Beach Ordinances prohibitspanhandling on public property within 20 feet of ATM machines, parking machines, theperimeters of outdoor eating establishments, entrances or exits of food stores selling alcoholicbeverages, entrances or exits of financial institutions, and within any busy intersection. Section1-14 provides for a penalty not exceeding $500 or 60 days imprisonment or both.

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