The combination of excited college students and alcohol can create a host of problems. We're into the 4th week of the Spring Break rush and so far, the number of people who have had encounters with police is way up from last year.
"There's more kids here this year than there has been in the last few years," said Panama City Beach Police Chief, Drew Whitman.
No one wants to go on vacation and leave on probation. But so far this Spring Break, it's been a very busy season for police. The numbers show much busier than last. From March 1st through the 20th, Beach Police Officers answered more than 6,500 calls for service. That’s about 3,000 more than the same period last year. They've arrested 672 people, worked more than 351 traffic crashes and answered 148 medical calls.
Chief Whitman attributes the spike to a larger police presence and crowd.
"Proactive law enforcement, being out there, being seen. The walking details, we've done a lot. Having extra officers out there," said Chief Whitman.
Keeping everyone safe is a combined effort between Beach Police, Panama City Police, the Bay County Sheriff's Office, the Florida Highway Patrol and the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage and Tobacco.
"We gear up a lot for Spring Break every year. We go to extended shifts, anywhere between 12 and 16 hours, it depends what shift you're on. Everybody works and they can volunteer one of their days off," said Chief Whitman.
Most of the arrests stem from alcohol.
"Biggest ones are probably possession of alcohol under the age of 21, disorderly conduct, trespassing and consumption on the state right of way," said Whitman.
These numbers only reflect cases Panama City Beach Police worked. Their jurisdiction covers about twelve miles of the beach from Front Beach Road and Wells Street to Joan Avenue and Thomas Drive.