Panama City Beach police have a relatively new tool they're using this year to keep an eye on spring breakers and locals. Police have set-up a special security tower in the parking lot of the Walmart on Front Beach Road. It allows them to go 25 feet above the crowd to spot problems, and hopefully act as a deterrent to trouble.
"Down around La Vela and Spinnaker, we have a lot more officer presence down in that area,” said Lt. Rich McClanahan with the Panama City Beach Police Dept. “Up in this area the tower being up in the air keeps a lot of cars from getting broken into, keeps people a little bit more under control from wanting to get into those big groups and fight."
Officials believe these towers could be a real asset where large crowds congregate.
"There's just different events where we have large crowds and by having one of these it'll keep the crowds safer if a child was to go missing, it just gets a set of eyes up higher over those crowds."
And since it’s imposing, it has a way of helping things say calm.
"When they're in the area, people tend to behave a little bit better or think or know that the officers are present and watching, so less likely to have car burglaries, fights.
Although these towers are on loan, McClanahan says the department is trying to find grants and other ways to fund their own purchase of the towers.