Panama City no trespassing decal program sees success

For a while, many local businesses have had to deal with uninvited guests loitering on their property.
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 8:25 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A no trespassing pilot program partnership between the Panama City Police Department, Community Redevelopment Agency and local business owners is thriving.

The initiative began in December 2022 as a way to keep trespassing, littering and loitering near Panama City businesses at bay. After more than a year, Panama City Police Department Seargeant Joseph Record says the results have been promising.

“We’ve actually had less disturbances at certain businesses some where we have had constant problems with people,” said Record. “A lot of these individuals that would show up or just sleep outside or do things outside these locations at night are aware that they are not supposed to be there.”

Kevin Mitchell is one of the owners at The Press Downtown Panama City. He says joining the program has made him feel safer because his property is being protected.

“Sometimes you look at these things and you go ok it seems kind of silly,” Mitchell said. “This is one of those things that wasn’t silly because it actually made a difference. It made a difference for us as a business to know that that’s there and we don’t have to think about that.”

The window decals have made alleviating a trespassing issue much quicker and simpler.

“If someone is outside the business after hours, we make contact with the individual, advise them they’re not supposed to be there,” Record said. “With having that letter on file for no trespassing and that cling as a bonus it allows us to trespass that person without having to contact the business owner in the middle of the night.”

According to the department, nearly 800 businesses have enrolled in the program and about 1,000 decals have been distributed, due to some business owners choosing to place a sticker on more than one building entrance.

“I think it was a great step. I think the fact that the businesses were involved in it, and we had some contribution to how it could work. I think it was a great merger between the businesses downtown and the local police department and I think it’s been quite effective,” Mitchell said.

Officials say a first trespassing violation will result in a warning. A second offense will lead to a criminal charge. To enroll in the no trespassing decal program, reach out to the Panama City Police Department.