Jacksonville Beach police chief says extra officers will be on duty for Orange Crush festival

Police Chief Gene Paul Smith says officers are prepared, but he’s worried about the event being unorganized

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Police are preparing for a popular festival that has its sights set on Jacksonville’s beaches.

Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Gene Paul Smith made a presentation to the Jacksonville Beach City Council on Monday about the Orange Crush festival, saying they have been preparing for the event since March and they are prepared to treat the event, which is set for June 18 to June 20, like it’s the Fourth of July. That means extra officers will be on duty.

Orange Crush has been happening for 15 years now and has been in Tybee Island, Georgia, for the last 10 years. The festival celebrating urban culture and rap music attracts thousands.

“It’s always good energy,” said Savannah resident Jawan Barns. “Tybee Island to Jacksonville Beach, it’ll be a step up. Jacksonville will love it.”

In 2019 in Tybee Island, according to Smith, there were 80 arrests made the entire weekend of the Orange Crush festival.

Smith said they are ready for any problems from this year’s event and they want to make sure everyone has fun and stays safe.

“We’ll have a full command post up and running and everything for the weekend,” Smith said.

Some business owners in Jacksonville Beach are nervous about the crowds.

“The crowd, we can handle a lot down here, but when you’re talking about 15,000 extra people down here, that’ll get crazy,” said business owner David Gildart.

Smith said he doesn’t want the community to panic because they’re going to have extra officers on duty that weekend who will strictly enforce things like violent behavior, house parties and tailgating.

But Smith said he is worried about the event being unorganized. He said the event has no permits issued and he’s received no concrete plans of how the festival will work.

“There’s really no event. Everybody just shows up at the beach. It’s not really organized,” he said.

He also advised people who rent out their homes to be cautious.

“We’ve been advised to watch Airbnbs because that’s where a lot of house parties are,” Smith said.

News4Jax reached out to an organizer of the event but had not heard back as of publication.

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