Recently a request was made to Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen to, as Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the county, put his thoughts down in writing about the challenges law enforcement faces providing public safety during Spring Break on Panama City Beach.
In response, Sheriff McKeithen wrote a letter outlining what he felt were the core challenges of Spring Break. Sheriff McKeithen identified these as controlling huge numbers of lewd, disrespectful, drunken college-age spring breakers, monitoring thousands of members of the 100 Mile Club that, often armed, flock to prey upon the college crowd which, in a drunken state, are easily victimized, and keeping members of law enforcement safe at the same time.
Sheriff McKeithen also identified, in his opinion, the common denominator between both groups attending Spring Break: excessive consumption of alcohol.
Sheriff McKeithen recommended five initiatives that would apply only in problem areas identified by law enforcement during spring break:
(1) Allow no alcoholic beverages on the beaches (sand) or parking lots DURING SPRING BREAK, as has already been implemented in many communities such as Daytona Beach and Ft. Lauderdale
(2) Any person possessing alcoholic beverages must have a valid I.D. on their person.
(3) DURING COLLEGE SPRING BREAK require all bars, clubs, and other establishments located on Panama City Beach and the unincorporated area west of the Hathaway Bridge to stop serving alcoholic beverages at least by 2 AM and possibly even earlier.
(4) Aggressively enforce capacity limits and fire safety ordinances DURING SPRING BREAK at condos, hotels, and clubs.
(5) Use TDC advertising money currently spent on college Spring Break to advertise what you can't do here and all new laws and ordinances.
To clarify Sheriff McKeithen ‘s first recommendation that no alcoholic beverages be allowed on the beach (sand) and parking lots, THIS WOULD AFFECT THOSE ON THE BEACH (SAND) AND PARKING LOTS DURING THE APPROXIMATELY SIX WEEK PERIOD OF COLLEGE SPRING BREAK ONLY.
To read Sheriff McKeithen's complete letter, please see the BCSO Facebook page Frank McKeithen-Bay County Sheriff.
The above was released Wednesday by the Bay County Sheriff's Office.