PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Panama City Beach Police Department will roll out a special group next week. Officers are trading out the black top for the white sand.
"We'll kick off with five and when it gets busy we'll put anywhere between five and seven down there," Chief Drew Whitman of the Panama City Beach Police Department said.
"Just an extra set of eyes and ears out there to pass on the information to keep it safe down there," Chief Whitman said. Every year around Spring Break some officers switch from patrolling the streets to the white sands of the beach.
"It's always nice to have some extra officers on the beach. It's a great presence down there. People feel safe and then we can also deter crime before it happens," Chief Whitman explained.
While on beach patrol, officers with the Panama City Beach Police Department have many duties including enforcing the area's Spring Break ordinances.
"That way the officers that are what we refer to as topside can handle the calls that go out essentially topside and then you've got officers dedicated solely to beach calls or beach enforcement of the ordinances," explained Lieutenant Clayton Jordan with PCB Police.
Lt. Jordan says some benefits come from having officer near the water. "You get the officers on the sand, they've got great mobility as far as the ATVs. They cover a lot more distances," Lt. Jordan said. He also says there's a downside to working without a regular patrol vehicle. Beach patrol officers usually have to work without access to their laptops.
Both officers on the sand and on the pavement will work together to keep everyone safe for Spring Break. "We're ready. We're prepared. We're gonna work well with the other local agencies with our mutual aid," Chief Whitman said.
In March, beach-goers cannot drink on the sandy beaches. Also, metal shovels are not permitted. Any holes dug on the beach can not be deeper than two feet.