Spring Break Bookings on the Rise - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Spring Break Bookings on the Rise

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For every officer there are thousands of spring breakers and hundreds of arrests. A big goal for law enforcement is expediting the process to help keep resources stay on the road. But one thing is for sure; bookings into the Bay County Jail are skyrocketing.

Thousands come to party under the sun in Panama City Beach, but for many the celebration lands them baking in the sun over the Mobile Booking Center off of Thomas Drive.

"Kids are coming here to enjoy the sun and a lot of them are diverting to the welcome center," said Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen. "And unfortunately when they meet us if we can't deal with them we bring them down here."

The "Welcome Center" saves time and resources for the Sheriff's Office and Beach Police. The facility avoids officers having to drive to Star Avenue to book those under arrest.

"On any normal given day if we had transported 110 people one at a time to the county jail first of all that would have been 3,300 miles," said McKeithen. "Which is equivalent from going here to the west coast driving."

"They book them in and they transport them to the county jail for us along with their prisoners," said Panama City Beach Chief of Police Drew Whitman. "That way my officers can get back on the street where it's safe for everybody else."

Beach Police Department adds auxiliary units to the roads when spring break hits. They transport those in custody to the welcome center if the number of arrests start climbing.

"That frees up a full time officer to be on the street where they need to be," said Whitman.  

Sheriff McKeithen admits that although this method has proven to speed up the process there are still delays at the Jail, because crime doesn't stop in other parts of the county.

"Unfortunately, the numbers, the volume, the alcohol, the drugs," said McKeithen. "You're going to have this and we are just trying to protect them as much as they can."

For the first time this year the Mobile Booking Station has teamed up with the Department of Juvenile Justice to have the ability to book those under the age of 18.

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