Local police say they've seen a drop in crime during coronavirus outbreak

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The coronavirus outbreak has impacted every aspect of life in our area, including tourism, our economy and even crime.

Local police talk about the coronavirus outbreak's impact on crime in our area. (WJHG/WECP)

"Crime went down a little bit because we lost a lot of our visitors,” said Panama City Beach Police Chief, Drew Whitman.

Whitman said the Governor’s Executive Orders and closing down the beach were factors in the dip in crime.

While that small break in crime is appreciated, police officers know there's always a risk when you carry a badge and now there's the added risk of COVID-19. Whitman said despite the outbreak, officers in the city are still working to enforce the law.

"We still have a lot of residents and people still in our area. We still have a full staff out there working 24/7, 7 days a week,” said Whitman.

Chief Whitman said while officers are working to stop crime they're also working to prevent spreading the virus.

He said officers have personal protective equipment they use to protect themselves and others while on the job.

"They've always been issued gloves, but we've bumped it up a little bit. We got gloves, we have the N-95 mask that we've tried to issue out. We bought several hundreds of glasses,” said Whitman.

Whitman said officers have been training to deal with the coronavirus since February.

"We try to avoid the medical calls unless it's life threatening, if it is then we will respond. If it's something minor we let EMS and fire department handle that. We do have equipment if the officers have to go in there, their safety is my number one concern,” said Whitman.

Chief Whitman said they're also working to get officers gowns and other equipment to help them protect and serve and prevent the spread of the virus.

So as far as the drop in crime, Panama City Police officials say they've seen a dip in some violent crimes such as robberies in the city.

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