Technology, police presence help other cities manage busy weekends

Source: NBC Miami
Source: NBC Miami

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Violence at bike rallies across the country isn't uncommon, but after several deadly shootings from Bikefest in Myrtle Beach this Memorial Day weekend, other police leaders in different cities are talking about the lessons they've learned.

In Miami, there is a Memorial Day festival known as Urban Beach Week which has brought police challenges in the past. Back in 2000, Miami Beach Sergeant of Police Bobby Hernandez says they were caught off guard when 250,000 people showed up and shootings and stabbings followed.

This past weekend, the approximately 600 police officers on patrol made 225 arrests; that's the lowest number of arrests in 15 years.

Hernandez said one of the biggest changes made was to set up major events plan with various departments throughout the city when a large number of people come into town.

"Also for now, we have cameras at every intersection, which feeds live eye video to the command center. Also, traffic loops and license plate readers - that's all because of technology we didn't have in 2001," explained Hernandez, who added it was important to answer the public's complaints and concerns over the festival.

Daytona Beach has Bike Week, which is in its 74th year. Daytona Police Chief Michael Chitwood said the department has made a conservative effort to keep violence down.

Chief Chitwood said they work with the FBI Street Task Force to get intel on biker gangs before their Bike Week.

Chitwood adds that in the weeks and months before, they work on building relationships with leaders of some of the local chapters to start a rapport.

Captain David Knipes with the Myrtle Beach Police Department said the entire police force, plus 220 officers from other agencies, were covering the city this past weekend.

According to Knipes, Myrtle Beach Police will be conducting an after-action review to discuss changes and strategies before next year.

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