Complications of Spring Break in Miami.

In recent news Miami Police annnounced, it will deploy about 25 officers, who will be wearing riot protective gear, in front of Ocean Drive to seize alcohol and drugs to prevent spring breakers from getting too intoxicated. Barricades and all-terrain vehicles will also be used to disperse crowds.  South Florida is a hot spot for Spring Breakers in the United States.  There is one week where they get to leave their classwork at colleges around the Nation and head to Florida for some wild and crazy moments.  Because Miami has beautiful sandy beaches and sunshine during the day, and many chic bars, clubs, dance and cultural venues at night, it has been referred to as “the epicenter to some world-class partying. While this may be exciting to the visitors to Miami, it can be somewhat tiring and dangerous to the residents who have to deal with the onslaught and the craziness induced by immaturity, drinking and drugs for a prolonged period of time as the colleges stagger their weeks off.  Unfortunately, the crazy acts of partying with a large number of students who have dropped their inhibitions due to drugs and alcohol could lead to criminal charges as a lasting party gift from Florida.

Common Spring Break Crimes.

  1. Alcohol possession by a minor. Possession of alcoholic beverages by persons under age 21 prohibited. —  It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 years, except a person employed under the provisions of s. 13 acting in the scope of her or his employment, to have in her or his possession alcoholic beverages, except that nothing contained in this subsection shall preclude the employment of any person 18 years of age or older in the sale, preparation, or service of alcoholic beverages in licensed premises in any establishment licensed by the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco or the Division of Hotels and Restaurants.
  2. Drug possession. Use, possession, manufacture, delivery, transportation, advertisement, or retail sale of drug paraphernalia, specified machines, and materials. —  It is unlawful for any person to use, or to possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia: Any person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
  3. Driving under the influence. Driving under the influence; penalties.— (1) A person is guilty of the offense of driving under the influence and is subject to punishment as provided in subsection (2) if the person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state and: (a) The person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired.
  4. Public drunkenness. Disorderly intoxication.— No person in the state shall be intoxicated and endanger the safety of another person or property, and no person in the state shall be intoxicated or drink any alcoholic beverage in a public place or in or upon any public conveyance and cause a public disturbance. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082or s. 775.083.
  5. Theft is common during spring break, primarily because victims often leave belongings such as wallets or purses in an unsecure place while partying. Theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the property involved.
  6. Indecent exposure and Lewd Conduct. Florida Statute 800.4 – A person who exposes his or her sexual organs in public or on the private premises of another in Florida can be charged with the crime of indecent exposure. While this is generally a misdemeanor offense, offenses that are committed in the presence of certain people can lead to felony charges.
  7. Disturbing the peace. Disorderly conduct is a broad category of acts that are prohibited because they are disruptive to an orderly society.
  8. Sexual battery. Similar to Lewd conduct and crime can be committed in a public or private location, and it involves the touching of another person’s intimate areas without his or her consent. Sexual battery can be a misdemeanor or a felony.
  9. Rape. In broad terms, sexual intercourse that occurs without the consent of one of the persons involved. It can involve threats or use of force to accomplish sexual intercourse and has serious legal consequences with the possibility of lifelong sexual offender registration.

While the extent of seriousness for each of these crimes varies in the charges and penalties attached to it, the crime is not an award that a student should have as a permanent record on their curriculum vitae. Miami Police must decide when to engage with the visitors, and how much force to use given the possibility of their altered state.  The crimes listed above require different techniques to monitor, deter, and control with the hopeful end result of  safety for all involved.  With a crowd the size of spring breakers, and the variances of respectable interaction, de-escalation of encounters will be important in the peaceful crowd control.

De-escalation Training is Not Mandatory in Florida.

The Department of Justice defines “de-escalation” as “the strategic slowing down of an incident in a manner that allows officers more time, distance, space and tactical flexibility during dynamic situations on the street.”  Training methods for police officers include:  1) Listen respectfully. Don’t argue or interrupt. People calm down when they feel they are being listened to and taken seriously; 2) Crowd control. Don’t allow an audience to gather. If two people are having an argument, isolate them from friends or family members to reduce aggressive behavior; 3) Courteous example. Use courteous, professional language to uphold the idea that talk must be calm and respectful; 4) Body language. Be aware not to use intimidating body movements; 5) Control encounter. Reduce offensive speech, cursing, and yelling by explaining that acceptable language would more likely get the point across; 6) Don’t publicly humiliate anyone—especially when others are watching. Be respectful of embarrassing questions and pat downs; 7) Don’t waste time and energy trying to convince a citizen that he’s wrong and you’re right. Do what you need to do without becoming defensive; 8) Remember that “broken record” is a useful way to achieve two goals—conveying the message that you’re in charge while keeping the lid on a potential conflict. “Broken record” means repeating a message as many times as needed: “I’m writing a citation. You’ll have an opportunity to state your case in court.” If a citizen argues, you refuse to take the bait. You simply repeat your message until the citation is written and your job is done.

Excessive Force.

The use of excessive force is a violation of civil rights laws that are in place to protect citizens against arbitrary and negative action from law enforcement officers.  Officers are allowed the “use of force” including hands, batons, tasers, or other weapons when necessary, and in accordance with officer training and department policy, to remove the threat of violence by subduing criminals.  However, this broad-based authority is based on policy that dictates what is considered “reasonable” force in any given situation and is often subjective to the instance when force is used.

Justifiable Use of Force.

The 2018 Florida Statutes Chapter 776 outlines the law on “Justifiable Use of Force” as it pertains to Police Officer activity in Section 776.05 whereby an officer is justified in the use of any force: 1) which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary to defend himself or herself or another from bodily harm while making the arrest; 2) when necessarily committed in retaking felons who have escaped; or 3) when necessarily committed in arresting felons fleeing from justice.

Seek Legal Counsel.

There are various federal and state laws that insure remedy to individuals who have suffered the negative effects of police brutality.  If you feel you have been a victim of excessive force by a Miami Police Officer, you should seek professional legal help to file a claim and have them review your case to see if you can sue for damages. Damages may include hospital/medical expenses; past and future permanent disability payments; emotional distress including depression and anxiety; loss of enjoyment of life; physical pain and suffering; and loss of love and companionship due to a death or serious injury caused by police brutality through excessive force.


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