Panama City Beach gearing up law enforcement for coming summer months
Whether it was Memorial Day madness or recent protests, Panama City Beach police have seen record activity the last ten days.
“I mean it’s kind of a scary thing what’s going on all over the country. The police did a great job here,” said Dave Trepanier, owner of Firefly. His restaurant is located in the retail complex where some protesters gathered last weekend.
Trepanier said, “The whole crew, the sheriff’s office- they were here in force and they did an awesome job. I mean I was really proud of them. Never at any time did we feel like we were unsafe or my customers felt unsafe.”
Last weekend the police department saw a 17% drop in calls and 24% fewer arrests than the previous Memorial Day weekend. It’s a trend the city’s mayor wants to continue in the coming weeks.
“I think you are going to see more resources on the streets. I think you’ll see more officers each weekend, granted there’s a lot of details to the plan that we don’t like to give out. I’m very proud of some of our business community that stepped up this weekend. I still want to see Circle K step up a little more,” said Panama City Beach Mayor Mark Sheldon.
Last weekend the Panama City Beach Police Department enlisted the help of 40 extra officers as well as help from other agencies like the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.
Trepanier said, “They’re being firm but they’re being kind. You know I was out there a bunch in the parking lot kind of seeing what was going on. They’re doing the right thing under these strange state of affairs we have. There’s a lot of pressure on them right now.”
But despite the unknown challenges ahead, Sheldon said Panama City Beach will maintain it’s family-friendly core values.
“We’re not going to allow people to come into our town and create problems and be lawless. If you’re going to do those things, you’re going to go to jail,” said Sheldon.
Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford sent us a statement saying, "We appreciate the close working relationship we have with the Panama City Beach Police Department to provide additional resources to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for all Bay County residents and visitors."
We did reach out to Panama City Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman. However, he could not be reached for comment.
There will be a press conference Tuesday with officials from local police departments and sheriff’s offices and representatives from the local minority communities. As always we will be there and bringing you the most up-to-date information on it.