Beaches police make only 30 arrests on July 4th

Mayor says increased law enforcement presence added extra sense of security

By Kumasi Aaron - Reporter/The Morning Show anchor

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - Officials in Jacksonville Beach are calling their Fourth of July celebration a success not only when it comes to fun and fireworks, but to safety.

Recent fights at the beach on Memorial Day had many residents concerned and prompted city leaders to step up security for Independence Day celebrations, bringing in officers from six other agencies to help out.

Channel 4 spent the day talking to business and city leaders, saying there were about 100,000 people out at the beach Thursday and the police department said they only made about 30 arrests, and the vast majority of those were for drinking in public.

Police said that amount of arrests is typical for a normal weekend and far less than a holiday weekend.

"The big waves and the fireworks were awesome," said Lathan Smith, describing his Fourth of July at Jacksonville Beach.

Smith came with his sister and dad Gene, who decided not to let the fights on Memorial Day keep them home, and he said he's glad he did.

"The people were great. Everybody was friendly and we had a good time," said Gene.

It's a sentiment shared by Jax Beach Surf Shop owner Tony Hall.

"I think everything went awesome. Awesome event," said Hall. "Everybody's coming in the day after just saying great things. I think we finally did it right."

Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham said an increased law enforcement presence added an extra sense of security and kept everyone on their best behavior.

"Well, it went great," Latham said.

In all, police said there were just two physical arrests, one for breach of peace after a man began yelling, and another for battery domestic violence after a woman hit a man.

Police said 25 people received notices to appear for drinking in public, two for possession under 21, and two for possession of marijuana.

"That's a weekend for us, so that's not a bad day," said Latham. "So that's a lot better than we would fare for any Fourth of July I can recall."

Latham said he's proud of the results and hopes it paves the way for more fireworks at the beach for Fourth of July.

"I'm only one vote on the council but we'll be deciding here during the budget process about next year, but I feel pretty good that we'll see Fourth of July fireworks again next year," Latham said.

The only complain some people had was the traffic for how long it took to get out of the area, but Jax Beach police said they had the roads clear by 11:30 p.m.

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