Miami Beach will close the beach two hours earlier to deter criminals from preying on tourists and residents after hours on the sand.
Commissioners unanimously voted to approve closing the beach east of the dunes at 10 p.m. instead of midnight.
Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez sponsored the change, which was prompted by thefts and violent crimes that have occurred late at night on the beach.
The conversation about how to prevent crime on the sand has been sustained since last summer, when a string of thefts and the rape of a tourist on the beach led the city to warn residents and tourists to avoid the shore late at night.
“We need to tell tourists, after 10 p.m., we’d rather you not be on the beach because we’ve had a very difficult time with violent crimes,” Rosen Gonzalez said.
Kenneth Bereski II, a local activist and mayoral candidate, asked commissioners to consider an educational campaign in conjunction with the rollback because visitors up and down the shore won’t know they shouldn’t go onto the beach after 10 p.m.
“Remember, we have new tourists here every day,” he said.
City Manager Jimmy Morales said the administration would look into posting signs and doing public outreach to get the message out.
Bereski, a South Beach resident who likes to jog on the beach at night, also worried police would go after harmless locals exercising or honeymooning couples looking for some quiet time on the sand.
Police Chief Daniel Oates said the police would be judicious in its enforcement and the intention is to root out criminals.
“Our cops are pretty sophisticated. They will use this as a tool, and they will use it wisely,” he said.
The beach will continue to open at 5 a.m.