NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – By Friday afternoon, the spring breakers had already made their way to Flagler Avenue. But this year, they were met by dozens more law enforcement officers than they may have seen in years past.
Interim Police Chief Eric Feldman said it’s one tactic they’re using to try to calm the crowds this year.
“The hope is we can deter that unwanted behavior we saw last year,” he said.
Officers were already standing on every corner, up and down the beach, and riding bikes around.
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Feldman said they don’t want to see what happened last year: high school-aged students coming in from across Central Florida, underage drinking, getting in fights and vandalizing local businesses.
“Last year was the first time they scheduled all of those spring breaks together so I think a lot of this has to do with there being too many kids,” he said.
Most have the same spring break this year, too. Feldman said another issue they’re tackling is parents from outside of Volusia County dropping their kids off and leaving them unsupervised.
“So if you drop your kids off and they get into trouble, there’s a good chance you’re going to be picking them up from the county’s Volusia Family Center,” he said.
Police will be using the city’s recently passed youth curfew as a tool.
It now bans anyone under 18 from being out without a parent between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. during the week, with it extended to 6 a.m. on weekends. If caught, they’ll get a warning first, then a $50 fine. The chief said parents can get fined, too, if they knew the child was out.
“Also, if you receive a warning from a police officer and they’re giving you a lawful order to disperse because there’s a curfew, you could also be charged with a criminal misdemeanor,” said Feldman.
The crackdown on the behavior is something businesses on Flagler Avenue are thankful for.
“I think the kids see them and are starting to behave so I’m definitely all for it and I think most of us are, especially the locals, we’re tired of it,” said Issac Binda, manager at The Breakers.
Binda said already Friday he’s noticed a difference with the large police presence.
“I love it! It’s been so peaceful. I know this is technically the first full day but I am loving the presence of the police. The kids have calmed down,” he said.
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