NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. - The City Commission of New Smyrna Beach on Tuesday passed a measure to enact a permanent youth curfew in the city. It was created in an effort to address rising rates of juvenile crime. In particular, juvenile arrests went up 89% from 2021 to 2022 according to police data.
The vote was approved unanimously at 4-0. It will be in effect from 11:00pm to 5:00am Sunday through Thursday, as well as 11:00pm to 6:00am on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. It will be enforced first with a written warning, and then by fines ranging from $50 to $100 in the event of repeat violations.
Interim Police Chief Eric Feldman gave the Commissioners a rundown on how the curfew would work, with residents having weighed in on both sides of the issue. There was a degree of skepticism from some, and Commissioner Jason McGuirk advocated for a periodic review to ensure the curfew was still necessary.
“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 as cited in a news release. “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.”
The text of the resolution provided a number of justifications, including that youth are more susceptible to being victims of 'homicide, robbery, assault and battery, and sexual offenses'. It reasoned that this is driven by them being generally smaller than adults and therefore more physically vulnerable.
Parents of youth who violate the new ordinance can also be held liable, susceptible to the same fines the kids themselves will face. Exceptions to the policy apply as follows: