Panama City Beach Police Considers Portable Security Tower - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Panama City Beach Police Considers Portable Security Tower

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The Panama City Beach Police Department is looking to be a head above the rest, literally, by bringing the latest model in mobile security towers to our white sandy beaches.

The technology helps law enforcement better control the crowds brought here during our busy tourist seasons.

News 13 was on scene with beach police Tuesday for this eye in the sky demonstration.

This portable device is just one of several cutting edge technologies that could soon be enhancing law enforcement procedures

The interest is definitely there. Now, all they need is a grant.

Complete, with long range cameras and night vision, the sky box is the Cadillac of crowd control and on the wish list for Panama City Beach Police.

It's the right time to look, according to Lt. Rich McClanahan.

"During Spring Break is an excellent time for us to look and see if this is a product to be able to purchase," said McClanahan.

He along with representatives from Pier Park and the Bay County Sheriff's Office, each took a turn going up over 20 feet high to get a feel for what both models could bring to their agency, especially during the busy spring break season where crowds are dense.

"The officers go in there and if they need help or assistance, it's sometimes difficult to hear them, difficult to see them," said McClanahan.

That's where the tower comes in.

"It serves as a command and control for them because they can point the officers as to where to go, see over the crowd completely, and see a situation happen," said Howard Schemer, Business Manager for FLIR, the parent company of Sky Watch.

That's not all the Beach PD is looking at. License plate readers are also tempting to this agency that frequently deals with car theft. The devices can read thousands of plates in a single shift looking for abnormalities.

It's all part of a new wave of technology that is paving the way for a stronger police force.

"It just makes life easier, communication faster, it makes people safer," said McClanahan.

Now they just need the money.

McClanahan said they are seeking grants to be able to purchase this equipment.

Most recently they have purchased new equipment for their surf patrol via a grant through Firehouse Subs.