Police take zero-tolerance approach to New Smyrna Beach holiday crowds

Concerns about juveniles fuel police presence

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Thousands hit Central Florida’s coast Tuesday to celebrate July 4 at the beach. New Smyrna Beach police were all hands-on deck and said they are seeing record crowds in recent years for major holidays. The department unveiled its new mobile command center Tuesday to keep an eye on the crowds.

“It was pretty crazy getting in here this morning. Every single road in town was just packed,” said resident Tommy.

The beach was already packed by 7:30 a.m. Flagler Avenue’s ramp closed to capacity shortly after, followed by more approaches along New Smyrna Beach. Especially around Flagler Avenue, families on the beach seemed to be the minority.

“Teenagers! High schoolers,” said Tommy. “It’s packed. But it’s in control, the police are doing a great job keeping everything under control.”

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July 4 last year proved to be chaotic for police.

“As the evening approached, there were just juveniles everywhere on Flagler Avenue throwing mortars at us, lighting off fireworks,” said Captain Jason Reve.

Reve said one even brandished a firearm at them.

It’s why they’re taking that zero-tolerance approach now. The new mobile command center is set up inside with officers watching surveillance cameras set up around town.

“We have officers on bicycles, officers up and down Flagler Avenue at every intersection, we have officers on State Road 44 as they’re coming into the city,” said Reve.

This year the police also have a new juvenile curfew on their side. Now, anyone under 18 must be with an adult/guardian or home by 11 p.m.

“Usually around 10:30 we have an officer or two get in the patrol car and say ‘hey curfew’s at 11:00 if you’re under 18, you need to go where you’re going to be,” said Reve.

Plus, just in time for the holiday, the city enacted a new parking ordinance. Now, on top of a ticket, police can tow any illegally parked cars.

“When you’re driving around, people will just park any and everywhere. So that’s curbed that behavior,” said Reve.

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Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.