PCB Police Chief says emergency beach closure ordinance was a ‘great success’
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - For nearly two months, Panama City Beach officials have upheld a summer emergency beach closure ordinance for a historically “problem” area of the sandy beach.
“The last thing you want to do is come here on vacation and not be able to sleep because you have a bunch of rowdy kids on the beach keeping you up all night,” Panama City Beach Police Chief J.R. Talamantez said.
That’s why the beach from the east of Boardwalk Beach Resort to the west of Long Beach Resort has been under an emergency beach closure ordinance from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. since July 9th.
“In order to try and mitigate us having to go down there and send one or two officers to break up 100 or 200 people, we asked the city to consider closing that section of the beach temporarily, which they agreed upon and it’s been a great success,” said Talamantez.
A success Talamantez said came with a lot of education over the past two months.
“99.9% of people down on the beach understood. Now there was that .1% that tried to test the limits and we dealt with them, but typically that’s our job is to deal with that 1% that tries to ruin it for everyone else,” said Talamantez.
Even for the 0.1%, Talamantez said they didn’t have to write any citations.
“There were no arrests for actually violating the ordinance during this entire time,” said Talamantez. “Anytime we educated somebody about the time, they were more than happy to leave.”
But that doesn’t mean everyone was happy about the idea of the closure.
“I mean it’s kind of fun out here just to do something at night, you know? Just hang out with people,” Visitor Chris Hernandez said.
“It’s a free country, we should be able to come out here and party,” Visitor Evan Klatt said.
Parties that some might think will resume with the ordinance expiring Monday.
“I’m pretty excited so I guess we’re going to come out here and see what’s up tonight (Monday night).” said Klatt.
“Probably going to be some big parties,” said Hernandez.
But officials will tell you just because the ordinance is no more, doesn’t mean they aren’t actively working to keep it safe all year-round.
“In order to achieve those mission statements that we put out there; service, integrity, commitment, compassion are all components that we do here, but we can not take away the community component,” said Talamantez. “Ensuring that the community has a safe place to live, they have a place they would be proud of to call home, and it’s our job as law enforcement officials to ensure that the reputation of Panama City Beach doesn’t get sour. We make sure this place is safe for full-time residents and visitors.”
Talamantez said there’s also a reason they didn’t extend the beach closure ordinance through the rest of the summer.
“With Panama City Beach, you can almost set your clock to when we’re going to be busy and when we’re not and come August time-frame when kids go back to school, we typically see a decrease and that’s what we’re expecting this year,” said Talamantez.
As far as next year goes? Talamantez said based on the success from this year, he plans to recommend this ordinance again.
Officials said this ordinance was similar to the one passed in the spring related to the same area.
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