Downtown Melbourne — a favorite spot among many Florida Tech students — is generally seen as a safe place to go out on a Friday night by students like Zachary Shelton.
Some bars in downtown Melbourne don’t have much security, but that’s because they don’t seem to need any, according to both bar owners and the students who go to their bars.
One bar, Iron Oak Post, is located in downtown Melbourne and doesn’t prevent anyone from entering since the establishment is not 21 and up.
Anne Fears co-owns Iron Oak Post with her husband Mike.
Fears said their bar and several others don’t have security, and she doesn’t see security within the bar as an issue since they don’t have many incidents.
Shelton has only had one poor experience at a bar where a bouncer checked his ID and let him in, but asked him to leave immediately due to full capacity.
“I was very sad,” Shelton said.
However, having no security isn’t the case for all of the bars downtown.
“Some places have their own security,” Fears said. “It is dependent on the atmosphere of the place, it seems.”
Shelton, a senior at Florida Tech, lists Iron Oak Post as one of his top three favorite bars.
“It’s a nice bar,” Shelton said. “It’s quiet. Usually there are college students there. People from my class like to go there.”
Fears said downtown Melbourne requires extra security and police for publicized events in order to ensure that everyone stays safe.
On rare occasions, concert promoters may bring their own security for smaller events involving one bar rather than the entirety of downtown.
So far this year, there have been 46 incidents resulting in police offenses or arrests, according to Melbourne Police records.
These vary from aggravated assault to trespassing, with drunk driving, liquor law violations and assault occurring most frequently.
However, Fears doesn’t see an issue since these offenses are handled and don’t affect the establishments.
“At this point, security seems fairly good outside,” Fears said.
Yet, the bar owner would like to see improvements to security, such as an information system in place that links all of the nightlife establishments for the incidents that do occur.
The system could report real-time security concerns like excessively drunk groups, people walking out on bar tabs, fights, thieves and predator alerts—which are Fears’ main concerns.
“I think if the police and bars worked together, and a normal system was in place, it could benefit,” Fears said.
Shelton also thinks downtown is safe, but acknowledges that not everyone may feel that way.
“Personally, yes, but I don’t think women do,” Shelton said.
According to Shelton, downtown has evolved to include more police presence and public awareness.
“There are less creepy old people,” Shelton said. “I guess they just don’t hang around there as much.”
Shelton agrees that downtown could still improve, such as only allowing ride-shares and taxis down Main Street, ultimately making it safer by preventing drunk driving.
“Luckily, downtown is safe 99 percent of the time, but as the population grows we may see an increase in problems,” Fears said.
Of the incidents listed in police records, only one occurred this August.
Hence, while the police have seemingly handled the incidents swiftly, safety is always a priority.