New Smyrna Beach cracking down on teen misbehavior with larger police presence, new tools
NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. - It's hard to miss the increased police presence in New Smyrna Beach this spring break.
"I'd definitely say they're cracking down a little bit more than last year," 18-year-old Will Watson Jr., from Winter Park, said Monday.
Police are hoping to prevent what happened last year, when a crowd of teens, for example, took over Flagler Avenue and jumped on cars late at night. And so far, the department's efforts appear to be working.
"I think the message got out that we were going to be out here in force," interim chief Eric Feldman said.
New this year, visitors will find a command post parked at the main lot near the Flagler Avenue beach entrance to send a message and cameras to keep an eye on the crowds and officers. Watson Jr. and his friends have mixed feelings about the increased surveillance.
"I understand they're doing their job and stuff, but like at the same time, we're just out here trying to have fun on spring break," he said.
Most spring breakers have been following the rules, Feldman says, but they have had to make some arrests, mostly for drug possession and underage drinking.
And already, a nearby business, Ocean Breeze, has had a not-so-great encounter with the teen crowds.
"We had some dine-and-dashers. I think it was last Friday. They skipped out on the $116 tab. They were 17 years old, you know, probably here for spring break, and they just ran," server Sonya Dudiak said.
As for the new youth curfew for those 17 and younger, which goes into effect every day year-round at 11 p.m., it has yet to be enforced, Feldman says, because most teens are leaving before it begins.