What crime looks like recently in Panama City Beach

How bad is crime in one of the state's top tourist destinations? NC7's Katie Bente sat down with local police to find out.
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 9:47 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Many assume when they hear “small beach town,” it must be a doors unlocked, safe area. While Panama City Beach isn’t a bustling city like Miami, it isn’t kept in a bubble either. NewsChannel 7 sat down with the Beach Police Chief Wednesday to get a better idea of what crime looks like in one of the state’s top tourist destinations.

Even the sweetest, smallest beach towns aren’t completely safe. But keeping crime levels low is the goal for Panama City Beach Police Chief J.R. Talamantez.

“You know, even in paradise, we’re not immune to crime,” Talamantez said. “1% of people ruin it try to ruin it for everybody and we’re not gonna let that happen.”

One month into the new year, and trends seem to be lining up similarly with 2022.

“In comparison to years past we have not seen any uptick or a downtick is pretty consistent across the board,” Talamantez said.

Crimes reported to PCBPD for the month of January include one shooting, one aggravated battery, one aggravated assault, one vehicle stolen, two sexual batteries, and two burglaries. But the majority of these crimes are larceny with 41 reports made.

While it may seem like a high amount of crime for a population of less than 20,000, Talamantez said you have to consider the millions of people who visit every year.

“So we deal with different clientele, different people with different types of outlooks on crime. Some of them are a little bit more prone to committing crime some not and we’re tasked with trying to identify the crime, identify the suspect, effect and arrest investigate the totality of the crime all within a short time that they are here,” Talamantez said.

Doing things in a short period of time is something Talamantez said they’ve gotten good at doing with the help of local law enforcement partners.

“I have no issues bringing my family and friends to Panama City Beach, anywhere in the city, and having them not feel safe,” Talamantez said.

Looking forward into 2023, Talamantez said he expects trends to continue with a relatively low number of crime reports.