In the wake of an assault that sent a resident to the hospital and a recent uptick in juvenile arrests, Key Biscayne will “flood the streets with cops on weekend nights,” according to Interim Manager Charles Press.
Press said the police department will start to enforce a county juvenile curfew that starts at midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 11 p.m. other nights.
Press, who is expected to return to his regular job as police chief next month, described the incident last Saturday as “horrific” and said making an arrest in the case was the top priority for the department. He described the investigation as “difficult” and said officers were reaching out to school resource officers for leads. Press also said his department will treat the case as an aggravated assault and will ask that the offender be prosecuted as an adult if under 18.
Press told council members Tuesday the enforcement plan will be costly and will require additional overtime in a department that has a temporary manpower shortage, but said he will try to minimize costs by shuffling officers away from tasks like marine patrol and traffic enforcement.
Council members, who have often criticized police overtime spending in the past, said the increase in aggressive youth behavior warranted the extra spending. Press did not offer a dollar figure.
“This is an emergency,” said Mayor Mike Davey.
“We are at a tipping point,” agreed Council Member Allison McCormick.
Council Member Ignacio Segurola said residents complained to him that the police department “did next to nothing” as the size of nighttime youth crowds grew. He listed a series of steps, including a permanent officer posting on the Village Green and more security cameras to assist investigations.
The Council agreed to set a May 17 special meeting at the gymnasium to discuss policing issues, with the hope that residents could attend in person or online.
Press said he also hoped to have presentations from both prosecutors and the public defender to talk about the consequences of having arrests on a juvenile record. But he noted the decision to move a case forward lies in the hands of prosecutors and judges, adding a recent felony arrest in an alleged hit-and-run was reduced by a judge.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.