PC Commission: Downtown Crime, BP Claims, and the CRC - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

PC Commission: Downtown Crime, BP Claims, and the CRC

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Panama City, Fla. -

Highlights from Tuesday's Panama City Commission Meeting:

After making several efforts to curb crime and vagrancy in downtown Panama City, police say their efforts are really starting to pay off. Crime is down across the board, and some former trouble spots are seeing a turnaround.

Last September, News 13 brought you a story on the perceived turnaround residents and businesses were seeing downtown. Police say the numbers seem to validate that notion.

Here are the 2012 end of year stats acting chief Scott Ervin presented to the commission Tuesday night. In comparison to 2011:

  • There was a 30 percent decrease in arrests in the downtown area
  • Trespassing offenses were down 52% and alcohol offenses were down 46%.
  • The Grocery Outlet saw calls for service drop 26%
  • calls to McDonalds on Harrison avenue dropped 53%
  • calls to McKenzie Park dropped 20%
  • calls to the Rescue Mission dropped 13 percent.

Police say multiple factors go into their success downtown, namely teamwork.

"With the 50 business owners coming saying 'We want to make a change, We want to make a difference'...the cooperation we have received from them...that has been the biggest key factor in changing downtown," Sgt. Chris Edmundson said.

"When we have effective partnerships, and we can work together we start sharing information we start establishing ideas, we can accomplish quite a lot as a city," Ervin said.

Ervin says that they have an analyst on board taking a look at those numbers and searching for ways to bring those numbers down even more in 2013.

Also at Tuesdays Panama City Commission, agreed to begin discussions on the size of their BP claim.

Lawyers representing Panama City are in the process of looking at which revenue streams were affected by the 2010 spill. There is a risk involved in the negotiations, however. BP is pursuing a future liability release, in which the company would not be responsible for any economic damages that might occur from any further oil washing ashore in the future.

Mayor Greg Brudnicki says the risk is small, but the city will take the possibility into account when they negotiate their final settlement.

"They've got to look at the future just in case the oil comes back," Brudnicki said. "BP wants to have that future liability release, and so we want to make sure that we have that figure large enough."

That claim amount must be turned into BP by January 18th.

Mayor Brudnicki also addressed the commission's decision to officially look for another location to build a Community Resource Center.

The commission voted back in November to acquire land to build the center for the homeless on Star Avenue near the Bay County jail. But residents in the nearby Cherokee Heights neighborhood protested the move, saying that the center would pose a danger to homes and nearby schools.

After talking to Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen, Brudnicki recommended that the site be removed from consideration, which was unanimously approved by the commission Tuesday night.

"We need to extend an olive branch to the Rescue Mission, we need to extend an olive branch to the county and get everybody involved so we don't spin our wheels again," Brudnicki said. 

"So we learn from our mistakes."

Brudnicki says the city-created Homeless Task Force will continue to search for alternate sites for the Resource Center.