Transient Patrol

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The something new is in fact something old, foot patrols.

Thursday News Channel Seven talked with Panama City Police Officer Darrell Williams. He's the main man in downtown Panama City, working at the substation here for almost five years. In that time he's gotten to know many of our area's homeless.

Williams says the problem is not the Rescue Mission like many people think but those who "eat at the mission and sleep at the mission and then don't leave and go to work. They hang around and panhandle."

He says this past year he's seen a lot of new faces, a trend that has many area business owners worried. Thursday Panama City Police Department's downtown substation moved closer to the heart of the downtown area, into a new office on Harrison Avenue.

Police Chief David Slusser says the move will bring some changes. Slusser says the department has "allocated some extra officers to walk foot patrols in shifts in the downtown area". Williams says the increase in officer patrols has already started to make a difference in downtown. He says some of the other ideas in the works for the downtown area to help control the homeless problem, will really help.

Williams says arm rests in the middle of park benches would keep people from sleeping in McKenzie Park. He says he's "run off many of them".

Williams says he tells them "You are welcome to sit during park hours but you can't lay down." Williams says getting to know the regulars in the area can help deter crime.