In an effort to curb a recent rise in juvenile crime, city commissioners unanimously voted 4-0 to approve a citywide curfew for unaccompanied minors effective immediately from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Friday, Saturday, and legal holidays. Penalties include a written warning followed by $50 to $100 fines for subsequent violations.
Following a presentation on planned enhanced efforts to deter unwanted behavior during Spring Break by Interim Chief of Police Eric Feldman and a public hearing that included input from 15 residents speaking for and against the measure, Zone 3 Commissioner Jason McGuirk urged police to use discretion and proposed the curfew be subject to periodic review rather than permanent.
City Commission unanimously approves 11 p.m. youth curfew, agrees to review effectiveness on Oct. 10
“Unless there is a specific reason of some sort of provocation going on with a group of minors, that is the only time I would like to see your officers use this law to approach, stop, or detain these kids and fine them and bring in their parents,” McGuirk said during discussion on the item. “What I would like to see from the Commission is an annual review of what happened during that year. I would propose that the first meeting in October, we have a discussion on how it all went so we can rehash and go over any statistics that you can provide us and that people in the community, if they have any complaints, we can then have a designated time when we review these and we can look at, ‘Did it work?’”
Zone 2 Commissioner Lisa Martin, who represents all of New Smyrna Beach’s 7,375 beachside residents, had questions about moving violations and community service options before addressing requests for more city-sponsored teen activities as an alternative to congregating near the beach, saying, “I certainly agree that it would be lovely to have great activities for our local middle and high school kids, but I’m not sure that I’m ready to provide activities for the kids who come in from outside.”
The new curfew comes in response to an 89% increase in juvenile arrests and 56% increase in juvenile civil citations reported by police from 2021 to 2022 as well as a so-called “Spring Break Invasion” that resulted in approximately 300-400 students from across Central Florida simultaneously descending on the city last year. Several youth engaged in disorderly conduct including trespass of private businesses, fights in public parking areas and rights-of-way, discharge of airsoft guns, and congregating in public spaces while impeding the flow of traffic.
“We need to give our chief and officers the rein to stop things like that from happening, no matter if it’s on Flagler Avenue or at any business,” said Zone 1 Commissioner Valli Perrine reacting to a video exhibit showing a rowdy youth mob at the intersection of Flagler & N. Atlantic Avenues last year. “I too talked to the business owners. I’ve seen the kids leave the trash on the streets and the businesses, vandalize, break the glass in front of the businesses and it’s going to happen [at] more than just Flagler Avenue.”
Other Happenings in NSB City Commission
Mayor Fred Cleveland spoke last on the role of government in ensuring safety and tranquility, how New Smyrna Beach has evolved since the early 1970s, and the ordinance’s intent.
“Many of you have spoken tonight about not liking the progress that our town has made. In some regards, the progress is more painful than it is enjoyable. On the other hand, we have more restaurants, we have more shops, we have more amenities than we’ve ever had before. That’s progress. It comes with a fee. It comes with a price. We’re seeing part of that tonight with the discussion we’ve had,” said Cleveland. “I do not think that the cops are going to be prowling and looking around for trouble. They’re going to find it, and where there is real trouble, they’re going to have the tools to act on it. I do not think this is a blank check to go out and lock down New Smyrna Beach. I don’t think that was the intent, and that review that we have regularly will ensure that.”
The full text of the 10-page ordinance detailing definitions, parents’ legal duties, penalties, exceptions, and more is available for review at https://bit.ly/3IZy63M
Commissioners further signaled their support for law enforcement shortly after the meeting began by recognizing four Police Department Employees of the Year: Pastor Shelia Turner, Victim Advocate Fonda Mrnacaj, Detective Jordan Ishikawa, and Sergeant Brandon Mechtel.
In other action, commissioners heard an economic development presentation that included a proposed 500,000 to 1,000,000 sq. ft. business park to be built west of I-95, expanded event space for the New Smyrna Beach Car Show held every 2nd Saturday along Canal Street, and approved eight other special event applications:
- Bike Week Camping Event at VFW Post 4250 from March 1 to 26
- Charming Home Tour at multiple locations on March 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Clancy’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on March 17 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Flagler Tavern St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on March 17 from noon to 9 p.m.
- Heritage Day at Emory Bennett Park on April 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Clancy’s Cinco de Mayo Celebration on May 5 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Flagler Tavern Cinco de Mayo Celebration on May 5 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Flagler Tavern Summer Solstice on June 24 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Would you like to know more? Watch video replay of this meeting at https://bit.ly/3y28LjK and contact the City Clerk’s Office at email@example.com or 386-410-2630.