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Arts & Culture

Miami Police Handling Ultra Security Take Grim Lessons From Las Vegas Massacre

K. Lepri
The scene at last year's Ultra Music Festival in Miami, with high-rises looming above the venue. In light of last fall's Las Vegas mass shooting, those buildings have Miami police ramping up security,



One of Miami’s most popular music festivals is back.

The Ultra Music Festival is expected to draw tens of thousands of people Friday through Sunday to Bayfront Park in downtown Miami, an area surrounded by high-rise buildings.



And it’s that landscape that has Miami police thinking of concert security in a different way this year.


They’re taking lessons from last fall’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, when the gunman opened fire on a concert crowd from the 32nd floor of a hotel. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, killing 58 people and leaving 500 wounded.

Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina says 300 of his officers will be on duty each day of Ultra's three-day open-air extravaganza. And while looking out for dangers on the ground has always been a priority, Colina says security has expanded to consider threats that come from above.

"We're communicating with every major hotel and every office building on Biscayne Boulevard and speaking with their staff," he says. "If someone sees something suspicious, there's already a direct liaison where they will contact us so we can investigate further."

The security detail will also include what Colina calls "elevated observation points," another term for anti-sniper perches overlooking the entire venue. The Miami Police Department will be assisted by the FBI, the Coast Guard and South Florida's joint terrorism task force.

Colina's officers will also use "virtual policing," where strategically-placed static and mobile cameras will capture any suspicious behavior.


Tips for Ultra Music Festival Goers:


-- Come drug-free. At each security point, there will be an "amnesty box" where festival goers can drop off drugs and weapons, no questions asked.

-- Carry personal items in a clear plastic bag. Backpacks will not be permitted.

-- If possible, use mass transit or transportation services like Uber or Lyft to get to the event as traffic surrounding Bayfront Park is expected to be congested at best.

And lastly, (from Chief Colina):


-- "Come and have a great time."


Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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