Daytona Beach, Fla. – Law enforcement in Volusia County is once again gearing up for a possible pop-up, unpermitted event called ‘Truck Meet’ in Daytona Beach.
This time, though, deputies and police have a new state law on their side to help them control the crowds in “special event zones.”
“You’re going to sit behind a keyboard, and you think you’re going to promote an event and promote havoc. We’re coming to get you,” said Sheriff Mike Chitwood.
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The “Truck Meet” event that brought chaos to the beachside in years past has been moved to South Florida this year, but police still expect many to show this weekend in Daytona Beach.
“Monitoring social media, we still do see this event being promoted in our area,” said Chief Jakari Young with Daytona Beach Police.
The agencies are bringing in extra resources out of caution.
“We have to staff up. I’ve got officers from other departments all around the county coming in,” said Director Stephan Dembinsky with Daytona Beach Shores Police.
Last year’s “Truck Meet” cost Daytona Beach Police Department more than $178,000 in overtime pay. Law enforcement gave out nearly one thousand citations, arrested dozens, and beaches were torn up.
“There’s trucks that weren’t street legal that were converted to look like tanks. There were swimming pools in the back of trucks. The fights that occurred...” said Chitwood.
The events, which aren’t permitted within the city, also took a toll on residents and other beachgoers.
“Over the last couple of days, we’ve rescued almost 150 people out of the ocean — out of rip currents. So these events draw our resources away from those other things,” said Beach Safety Director Andrew Ethridge.
After last year’s event, law enforcement leaders worked with state representatives to create a law that recently took effect.
Now, a sheriff can enact a special event zone with enhanced penalties for breaking noise ordinances, traffic laws and vehicle specifications. This weekend, it’s all Daytona Beach and Daytona Beach Shores’ beachside.
The sheriff can also go after the promoter for not getting a permit for an event.
“Every single bit of overtime that we (incur), any fire or EMS costs that occur, any sanitation issue that occurs — they will be held civilly liable,” said Chitwood.
The special event zone will be in place this weekend until law enforcement deems the event to have dissipated.