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Daytona Beach police chief slams councilman's comments as 'shameful'

Sheldon Gardner
Daytona Beach News-Journal

Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young harshly criticized District 3 Volusia Councilman Danny Robins, a former Daytona Beach police officer, Tuesday over comments he made about the city.

Young's comments came during public comment at the Volusia County Council meeting, where anyone can speak for three minutes on a topic of their choice.

"Your comments were shameful and embarrassing and you should be grateful that I only have three minutes," Young said.

Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young

In May, the County Council discussed the possibility of expanding beach driving by reopening the driving area from Auditorium Boulevard to International Speedway Boulevard.

Some blamed a loss of business activity nearby largely on the County Council removing beach driving in the area in 2000.

Robins, a former Daytona Beach police officer, disagreed and said that crime, homelessness and a lack of special events have contributed to the decline.

"I will not bring my family through or to Daytona Beach without the scanner app on my phone to see what's going on," Robins said in May.

Volusia County Councilman Danny Robins watches from the dais at the Council chambers in DeLand on Jan. 5, 2023.

Young said that the city has special events that he has to mandate officers to work, and there is no staffing crisis. He said he has 236 positions filled out of 244 in his department.

But he focused on Robins' comments about crime.

"While we do have some issues in the city of Daytona Beach, it is hardly the crime-ridden armageddon that was described from this dais," he said. "These issues that exist in Daytona Beach exist in almost every major city throughout this country."

Young said homelessness is a nationwide issue and the department can't arrest its way out of the problem. He added that he's proud of his officers and the city officials who have worked to alleviate the homelessness problem.

"For any elected official who wore this uniform and is collecting a pension from the city of Daytona Beach to take their opportunity to drag the city through the mud for political gain is disgraceful and a direct insult to the men and women that accept the challenge of serving this extremely busy city and rapidly growing city on a daily basis," Young said. "I find it comical that this elected official's only real claim to fame is his service in the city of Daytona Beach, and now he sits on this dais and pretends to be the resident expert on all things public safety and law enforcement related.

"So for any city official still uncomfortable driving through the city of Daytona Beach without their police scanner, I would simply say you can do us all a favor and stay out of the city of limits of Daytona Beach if that's going to be your attitude."

Robins: 'I stand by my comments'

Robins responded to Young during council comments at the end of the meeting. He said he has known Young for probably 20 years and respects him "tremendously." Robins also said he respects Young coming to the meeting to share his thoughts and he encourages respectful dialogue.

"Where I disagree with him 老司机直播 is the unnecessary, baseless attack on my integrity both as a person and a police officer, disparaging the career where I served with honors 老司机直播 where I sacrificed my body for my community that I continually pay for every day I get out of bed," Robins said. "I stand by my comments as they were true to my experiences, and I will never apologize or be silenced for telling the truth now or ever."

Robins worked for the police department from 2005 to 2014, and his "assignments included patrol, motors, SWAT Team and the Crime Suppression Team," according to his councilmember page.

Robins said that in May he didn't disparage the police department's work or disparagingly portray the municipality.

"In fact, I've been the biggest cheerleader and will continue to do so for our law enforcement community and our first responders countywide," he said.

Robins said he was only stating his observations in the context of the discussion about beach driving and concerns about blight in Daytona Beach.

"I stand by my comments as they were true to my experiences, and I will never apologize or be silenced for telling the truth now or ever," Robins said. "I have also never been the person to back down from a conflict, but in this case I think it's within our community's best interest to keep our eye on the ball because the first step to addressing any problem is realizing that there is one."

He added, "In my opinion, we should be using this to our advantage to get more funding for our cops and community because they need it terribly. To the city of Daytona Beach and the chief, this will blow over. I still love you guys and respect you. I love our cops. And now I'll continue to strive towards improving our community. The District 3 door is open. It will remain open, and all my resources are always available to you guys."

'Arrive on vacation. Leave on probation'

John Nicholson, of Daytona Beach, is a regular attendee at County Council meetings. He said he felt embarrassed by Robins' comments and said no one likes to be told their area isn't perfect, but he said "the truth hurts."

"I'm sure you all have heard the phrase 'Dirt-tona.' Every time I hear it I cringe. I hate the comment, 'Arrive on vacation. Leave on probation.' I've heard that for years," Nicholson said. "We have problems in Daytona Beach. I bring it to you all because we have problems with the county. For 20 years the relationship between the county and the city was not the greatest. In the past, we've never really been that close."

Nicholson said Daytona Beach is the economic engine and tourism and events center of Volusia County and provides a great benefit to the county. He said the County Council plays "an intricate part like a puzzle to what we do."

On the dais, Council Chairman Jeff Brower said he wasn't surprised that Young "and his officers might have taken it personally."

"You did never mention them, but it was very, very strong," Brower said to Robins. "And I don't ever remember a time that a council member took one of our cities to task like that. I would hope that we would be more careful in how we speak about the cities within the county."

Brower said he didn't think the comments were helpful toward efforts to bring tourism into the city.

District 5 Councilman David Santiago encouraged the council to improve the county's partnership with Daytona Beach.

"I certainly feel that Daytona's success is the county's success. I want you to know that. And it's important that that dialogue and that relationship flourishes, and it's probably strained. It's been strained for a long time and it shouldn't be amongst any of the cities," he said.