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Press reports island nuisance calls dropping as police start bringing parents into the mix

Changes in how Key Biscayne police approach juveniles involved in an offense -- by getting the parents involved with each interaction -- has resulted in a dramatic decrease in nuisance crimes that have become a persistent and growing issue.

During January, village police conducted 170 nuisance checks and “park and walks,” and a total number of stops nearing 300, according to data provided by the city manager during the Key Biscayne Village Council meeting Tuesday.

“You can see in the amount of activity involving juveniles that we’ve been extremely successful in our engagement,” said Charles Press, interim Village Manager and Police Chief. “What has changed dramatically is that we invite – or require -- that the parents come out to every one of these stops as we make it. They talk to the police officers and engage in the issue. It becomes not only a warning for a civil citation but it’s also been an educational experience for parents who are now engaged themselves,’’

Reasons for the stops include juvenile disturbance, traffic stops of juveniles driving golf carts, juveniles congregating, drug possession, trespassing after hours, and no lights on bikes after dark.

“So the PD has been very vigilant, very busy, and last weekend alone we saw a dramatic reduction in some of these issues that have been paramount coming from some of these juveniles,’’ he said.

In other council action during Tuesday’s meeting, results from a 2020 community survey that gave the village overall positive marks, pointed to community priorities for the coming two years including beach maintenance, street lighting and traffic enforcement.

A total of 2,500 surveys were sent out to a random selection of village households; 512 surveys were turned in, with none rating the village below average or poor. In fact, with regards to village services, the responses showed a satisfaction rating 25 percent higher than other Florida cities, said Ryan Murray of ETC Institute, which conducted the survey and presented the findings.

“Everybody here should be really pleased. Folks are really satisfied,’’ he said. Even for the priorities that are earmarked for needing the most emphasis in the coming two years, most categories showed improvement from a similar survey done in 2018, he said.

According to the most recent survey, the community’s top priority is beach maintenance. To that end, the council approved a $1.8 beach renourishment project involving trucking in 26,000 tons of sand for the 1.4 mile beach. Funding will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Village Council member Frank Caplan noted that the project is actually permitted for 32,000 tons, meaning there could be an opportunity – perhaps at the expense of the village – to add 8,000 tons of sand to the project. “We should maximize this if we can,’’ he said.

Roland Samimy, village Resilience Officer, warned of the environmental “balancing act” of providing the adequate sand without impacting sea grass growth offshore. The renourishment measure was approved unanimously on first reading to get the project underway.

Samimy will check on the potential impact of adding more sand to the project. He will report back to the council Feb. 23.

Finally, in COVID-19 news, Press reported that 400 Key Biscayne seniors are now signed up to get the vaccine, including many helped by ongoing efforts of the Key Biscayne Community Foundation and other local groups.

The next Village Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 23rd at 6 p.m.