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Police struggle to keep lid on rowdy spring breakers

Spring breakers gather in South Beach, Monday, March 14, 2016, at Miami Beach, Fla. College students relax and have fun during their annual Spring Break. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Alan Diaz, AP

It is peak week for spring break in many of America's sun spots, including Miami. Hundreds of thousands of college students are partying together, but several communities are struggling to maintain control, often unsuccessfully, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann.

One hot spot is Ocean Drive on South Beach. Think of it as a mosh pit that stretches at least eight blocks.

How many kids? A couple hundred thousand is a frequent guess. But it's like that ninth beer - the real number no longer matters - except to Miami beach cops. Fewer than 400 of them are trying to keep the lid on.

"They're still going to do what they're going to do. You're not going to stop them," said Bobby Jenkins, president of the local fraternal order or police.

"You can deal with one or two but not thousands of them," Jenkins said. He said it's gotten worse over the years.

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Spring breakers gather in South Beach, Monday, March 14, 2016, at Miami Beach, Fla. College students relax and have fun during their annual Spring Break. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Alan Diaz, AP

"Usually people leave when you tell them to leave. Here they want to challenge you and take you on about it."

Take last Friday night, when the beach party moved into the street and got out of control. Some seven partiers were arrested.

"I guess some people got too rowdy, started trying to fight police," said a witness, Jovannae Sweeting.

In Florida's Panhandle, Panama City Beach is still recovering from last year's spring break. A video captured the alleged gang rape of an unconscious woman on a crowded beach. No one stopped it.

Seven people were shot at a house party and more than 1,000 arrests were made in March alone. The city banned drinking on the beach this year, but on Sunday, police say 20-year-old Tyler Gilmore from Indiana fell to his death from a parking garage after a day of drinking.

"Spring break should be fun. And you should be able to go and be safe," said Mark Frisz, Gilmore's high school wrestling coach. "And if you send your kids, to know that they're going to come back home."

Drinking in public is also banned in Miami Beach, but police there admit they have so many other issues, that ban is widely ignored.