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Panama City Beach officials look for ways to improve safety

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 7:31 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -

Panama City Beach is seeing an influx of tourists this year.

But some local business owners believe more needs to be done to improve safety.

“There’s just a lot of speeding through the parking lot, there’s a lot of kids in the parking lot, that’s the last thing any of us want to see. There’s a lot of people racing through on their cars and it’s just very, very dangerous,” Firefly owner Dave Trepanier said.

Panama City Beach City Council members held a special meeting Tuesday to come up with ideas for how to make the area safer.

Mayor Mark Sheldon said it’s important to have this discussion before we get into the summer.

“When you have a busy destination, you have more people that show up, when more people show up, there just tends to be more issues that arise,” Sheldon said.

Panama City Beach interim police chief Chad Lindsey said the department is doing all it can... but the officers need the community to help too.

“This is a community issue as we spoke about, and it’s going to take those communities and the business community to come together to come up with solutions,” Lindsey said.

PCBPD also gets help from the Bay County Sheriff’s office and surrounding agencies.

But, according to Sheldon, money for mutual aid has run out.

“We’re working with the TDC to try and get some more funding for mutual aid, what that is is the 100 thousand dollars we have for mutual aid, we’ve spent all that, just being so busy, everyone’s busy, everyone’s tired, we get it, so we want to make sure that we have enough officers on the street for every weekend,” Sheldon said.

“It’s gotten to where I have to close my business on Friday nights, Saturday nights, sometimes Sunday,” a business owner said.

Sheldon said they’re hoping to hear some solutions at their next meeting.

“We want to see an increase in fines for things that are nuisances, if you have loud music, instead of a 50 dollar fine, we want a 500 dollar fine. We’ve seen that effective with our double red flag system, we want to make sure we’re just as effective for every type of nuisance that’s out there,” Sheldon said.

And the last thing a visitor should want to bring home as a souvenir is a citation.

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