Florida Highway Patrol focuses on traffic arrests during spring break

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 10:23 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 24, 2023 at 10:24 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It’s not hard to see the heavy presence of law enforcement around Panama City Beach.

Residents expect it this time of year when spring breakers descend on our area.

“So, we have kind of teamed up with Bay County Sheriff’s Office and Panama City Beach Police Department last year after spring break and said, ‘Hey let’s come up with a new way to combat illegal activity entering our area so we’ve done that’,” Lieutenant Jason King, with Florida Highway Patrol said. “Collectively, we’ve gotten a lot more guns off the streets [and] drugs.”

King says with continued planning and teamwork with other agencies, they’ve formed a specialty unit.

“To prevent drugs, guns and other illegal activity from entering into the beach area,” King said.

To help keep the illegal activities out, they’re monitoring roadways in.

“High traffic coordinators 98, 79, 77, 231, what we call the big roads that bring a lot of people in,” King said.

King says they are focusing on enforcement efforts in those areas.

“Our goal is to be a visible deterrent,” King said.

On Friday, NewsChannel 7 went on a ride along with Florida Highway Patrol Sergeant Ryan Brown, who is part of the Criminal Interdiction Unit.

Brown says when conducting a traffic stop, they must have probable cause to do so.

“I’m making between 5 and 10 is a good guess as far as traffic stops go, cause a lot of those traffic stops lead to drug arrests and [DUI] arrests,” Brown said.

Officials with FHP say these traffic stops are just one way they’re hoping to help stop illegal activity from getting into our area.

Law officials say they have seen a rise in drugs found in vehicles.

“The presence of drugs we have seen [is] normally expected for this time that just what a lot of these visitors they do come in and they will have drugs on them,” Brown said.

Troopers will continue to make traffic stops and say if they sense or see illegal activity, they plan to take care of it.