DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Daytona Beach police said on Friday they are enforcing the county camping ordinance and that the homeless people in front of the Volusia County Administration Center must leave.
Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood said that people camped outside of the building need to go home or if they are homeless, they can go to the Salvation Army for shelter. Bus transportation will be provided by Salvation Army and pods will be available for their belongings.
Chitwood also said if people have a neighbor or someone who will take them in, police will assist with transportation to that location.
If people stay at the building, they will be forced to make arrests to enforce the county camping ordinance, Chitwood said.
"There are a bunch of legal hurdles that had to be cleared. One of the hurdles is to enforce the camping ordinance; we had to give these folks an opportunity to get a bed in a secure shelter," Chitwood told News 6. "We didn't have enough beds to accommodate this. The city manager and Commissioner Pam Woods has worked closely with the business community and with Salvation Army and today we were able to secure 82 beds in that facility."
Once police had confirmed enough beds were secured, Chitwood made an announcement about the shelter.
"You can go to the Salvation Army, take your belongings with you, you're going to be treated with dignity and respect. If you have somewhere else to go you can pack up your stuff and you are free to go," Chitwood said. "But if you refuse to leave, in that case I have to enforce the camping ordinance to make an arrest."
Chitwood said what had happened at the building was a "public safety and public health issue" and said that what occurred at the building after dark is "shocking."
"There's a lot of criminality," he added.
Check back for more on this developing story.
Dozens of people have spent the last two months camped in front of the Volusia County Administration Center and posing problems for the workers there. This is an issue News 6 has been following all week.
City and county leaders are working to solve the problem.
"We're trying to move as quickly as we can to get the beds to get them off the street," Daytona Beach Commissioner Pam Woods said.
Woods, along with local business owners, health officials, and other key agencies met to get an update on the issue. News 6 was told cameras were not allowed inside the meeting.
"I need agencies and the individuals in there to be able to speak freely about what we're trying to do, the barriers we may face, and bring everybody to the table, so it's not a public meeting," Woods said.
Woods is leading the effort to figure out a solution to the homeless problem.
"To get the individuals placed into housing, to continue looking into where the gaps in services are and how we can get additional shelter beds," she said.
Officials say they have increased security at the county building. Daytona Beach police arrested seven people Thursday for fighting, drinking, and drugs.