Friday, May 18, 2007

Not The Same Old Cop Shop ~ Policing On The Wireless Web

Sit here long enough and you're bound to run into some police. The strip plaza is strange because the southernmost few shops are in North Miami. The rest of the plaza is in North Miami Beach, with a little alley seperating two buildings and two cities. County cops, Florida Marine Patrol, Fish & Game officers, cops from nearby Biscayne Park and Miami Shores also come by for coffee, and often as not get out their laptops to take advantage of Starbucks wireless web. Plenty of police presence for sure.

We're sitting perhaps 200 feet away from Arch Creek, site of an early white settlement after the Spanish enslaved the Tequesta Indians and shipped them off to Cuba. During the 1920's, during Prohibition, lots of
rum from the Bahamas made its way up the creek, to be offloaded at a house in the woods that's still there. Now it's the Czech-Slovak Social Club, noted for its great food.
In the 1960's and 1970's it wasn't neccesary to run drugs that far up the creek. The part closest to Biscayne Bay had been deepened, straightened, and now ran through the Keystone Point neighborhood of North Miami. Cigarette style ocean racers were common, and plenty of pot was imported as the drug business paid for the development of ever larger and faster offshore powerboats. North Miami developed quite the boat building industry! By the mid 1970's the money started coming from cocaine and the boats stayed busy.
When they were being chased by the Coast Guard or Marine Patrol they'd throw the drugs overboad, big bales of drugs wrapped watertight in plastic. Fishermen finding a bale or two referred to then as "square grouper". One time I asked the police chief how come sometimes you read in the paper that some poor fisherman got busted for having one on his boat and another time a fisherman would be congratulated for finding one. He said that if I find one I should head straight back to the dock. If I saw a Coast Guard or Marine Patrol boat then I should head straight towards it shouting "Hey guys! Look what I found!" If I didn't spot one just go home, call all my friends, and have one big old party!

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