New Smyrna Beach curfew: City considers banning kids during overnight hours to deter crime

The City of New Smyrna Beach is considering implementing a curfew that would bar kids from hanging out along downtown during the overnight hours during the week and on weekends.

It comes in wake of police noticing an increase in juvenile crimes and arrests over the last few years, especially as the pandemic has waned, as well as in response to business owners complaining about thefts and other crimes allegedly being conducted by kids during the overnight hours.

"I had crime myself last year from a person coming in stealing. They got me for $4,500," said Snookie, the owner of Halos and Dreams.

Under the proposal, the curfew would be in place from 11 p.m. - 5 a.m., Sunday through Thursday, and from 11 p.m. - 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

You can read the proposal below.

"The New Smyrna Beach Police Department has seen a dramatic increase in juvenile related crimes against persons and property during the late-night hours.  These crimes increase significantly during school and public holidays as the city has become a destination location for many youths residing throughout east and central Florida," the proposal reads.

"The NSBPD believes that the proposed curfew would serve as an effective tool in curbing criminal activity committed by or against youth" and "would also serve as a deterrent to large groups of juveniles congregating on public streets and sidewalks during these hours."

Data from the New Smyrna Beach Police Department tracks the number of juveniles arrested from 2018 to 2022. That number decreased during the pandemic but then increased from nine arrests made in 2021 to 17 in 2022. That is an 89% increase in juvenile arrests made in the last two years.

Opinions are expectedly varied.

"I don’t know what the answer is," Bianca Powell, of New Smyrna Beach, told FOX 35 News. "Kids don’t have nothing to do and so they’re looking for stuff to do so if there was a place for them to just hang out, be together, because that’s all they really want is to be together."

"Once 11:00, they can’t go to the bars, there’s not anything to do so that’s when the kids get in trouble," said Kelly Laub, of Victoria Meeting Center.

The City Commission will consider the proposed ordinance during a first reading at Tuesday night's meeting. If approved, it will go on to a second reading and then a final vote.