The bill, HB 1595, requires that sheriff's offices take over the safety patrol and law enforcement of all unincorporated areas of the state, which includes beaches. It also says that county leaders cannot maintain any policing agency that is not supervised under the sheriff.
In Volusia County, home of New Smyrna Beach (one of Orlandoans' closest beach options), Sheriff Mike Chitwood has already begun making the transition.
"Deputies and Beach Safety officers have already been working together closely in anticipation of the law taking effect," the Volusia County Sheriff's Office wrote in a Facebook post.
The Sheriff's Office also said the Volusia County Beach Safety group will continue control of lifeguarding and medical emergencies while officers take over policing.
The bill has drawn criticism from the county's Beach Safety Division union, the Volusia Watermen’s Association. Union spokesman Bryon White referred to the measure as an "authoritarian power-grab," the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.
The sheriff's office would put at least 35 of 58 beach safety officers through training for beach policing, although they might not be assigned to the beach.
The new law is set to take effect in July.
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