Neptune Beach Mayor takes profanity ordinance off agenda | News

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Neptune Beach Mayor takes profanity ordinance off agenda

NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. -- Mayor Harriet Pruette removed the profanity ordinance off the Neptune Beach City Council meeting agenda Monday night. The ordinance, if passed, would have made it an offense for a person to use profanity or offensive language that could provoke violence.

Neptune Beach is now focusing on other ways to keep the beaches safe ahead of busy summer weekends.

With the lasting images of 2013's Jax Beach Brawl hanging over the First Coast, council members are working to pass new ordinances to keep chaos from coming to Neptune Beach.

"First Street's out of control," said Bob Shimp, a resident of Neptune Beach and Former Vice Mayor.

Shimp has lived on First Street for about 18 years and says in the last couple of years the problems have grown.

"Trash is left everywhere, rowdy crowds going on bicycles going up and down not getting out of the way for cars," said Shimp.

The list goes on and Mayor Hariett Prutte echoes those concerns after she received numerous complaints about last weekend's Dancin' in the Streets event.

"We've had a lot of people complaining to me. It was a circus on First Street and we had no police that monitored the area"' said Mayor Pruette.

The proposed ordinances would make it a misdemeanor if you refuse to leave a public area when asked by law enforcement and it would also make unlawful for you to block a sidewalk, street, or any public passageway. Florida Statutes already make some of this activity illegal, but Neptune Beach Police Chief David Sembach says the state laws are too vague.

"When you have to enforce these laws you want to be specific and I want that person and everyone else to know exactly why that person is going to jail if we have to do that," said Chief Sembach.

Mayor Pruette and Chief Sembach want to prevent incidents like last year's Jax Beach Memorial Day brawl. The Chief says all of the proposed ordinances, including the no profanity in public proposal are already on the books in Jacksonville.

"Jacksonville is different than Neptune Beach, Neptune Beach does not have the deep pockets for a First Amendment lawsuit," added Mayor Pruette.

Shimp says he didn't think Neptune Beach could enforce that ordinance any way. He says what the city needs, is more law enforcement on First Street.

The ordinances passed their first reading and the council expects to make a decision before Fourth of July Weekend. The Police chief says 15 officers from JSO will be assisting Neptune Beach police that weekend.


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