BCSO Watching Spring Breakers from a Birds Eye View

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Taking to the sky, the Bay County Sheriff's Office has taken advatage of using a different perspective to keep control of spring breakers.

"We can see large areas at one time, whereas if you're on the ground you're blocked by the buildings and trees," said BCSO Helicopter Pilot Lieutenant Larry Kennedy.

Lieutenant Kennedy has flown up and down Bay County's beaches for the past 13 years. During the spring break season his team is up in the air 7 days per week up to 7 times per day.

During NewsChannel 7's ride-along Thursday, we got a first-hand look at how helpful the helicopter really is. A beach brawl had broken out near Club La Vela. Law enforcement officials swarmed the scene by foot trying to break up the fight. Kennedy flew in for back-up and it took only a matter of seconds to send the spring breakers running.

"It's just a matter of blowing around a little bit of sand and getting sand in their eyes, and they disperse instead of fight," Kennedy said.

The chopper's work doesn't stop there.

"If we see traffic backing up we can get units in there to disperse. We've been really fortunate this year on the water side. We haven't had to use it too much for rescuing or spotting the rip currents," Kennedy told NewsChannel 7.

At an average cost of $425 per hour to operate, the sheriff's office spends more than $10,000 flying its helicopter on a busy week. Kennedy said it's money well spent.

"You save one life and it makes it all worth it."

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