Law Enforcement Prepared for Spring Break - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Law Enforcement Prepared for Spring Break

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Spring Break, 2013 Spring Break, 2013

Spring Break officially starts this weekend. Students from across the country will be making their way to the Gulf Coast to enjoy a week off of school.

This year, the Panama City Beach Police Department and the Bay County Sheriff's Office are working more closely than ever before to keep both tourists and residents safe.

"We're doing away with whose turf it is, or are they in the city limit, or are they in the county," Sheriff Frank McKeithen said.

"No matter what uniform you wear, green or blue, what side of the street you're working on, we're going to back each other up," Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman said.

It will also be all hands on deck in Panama City Beach, too. The Sheriff's Office pulls personnel from several of it's departments during the busiest weeks. The Beach Police Department uses part of its budget to hire help from other agencies, the Florida Highway Patrol, and Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco.

Together, the agencies will work everything from traffic issues to controlling large crowds.

"A lot of these kids forget their common sense, and that's when they start hurting themselves or hurting other people. Alcohol is a problem. Drugs are always going to be a problem," Chief Whitman said. "We look for that one group of kids or that one individual trying to ruin someone else's fun because they're breaking the law if they're doing that."

When a student or young adult breaks the law this Spring Break, they will be taken to the Sheriff's "Welcome Center." He is bringing the "big house" to a smaller yellow town home on the beach once again.

Suspects are booked and processed at the mobile jail the same way they do it at the Bay County Jail.

The mobile unit save officers a 30 mile trip across the Hathaway Bridge, which could be at least a two hour roundtrip.

"I call it the brilliance of simplicity because why should we take them all the way to town when we can bring them to the Welcome Center," Sheriff McKeithen said.

"That definitely helps my officers so we can keep them on the street to protect our community and our visitors," Chief Whitman said.

The Sheriff said he'll start staffing the mobile jail in March. Hotel and condo reservations show the second and third weeks in March will likely be the busiest in Panama City Beach.

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