PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — With the events of last spring break still fresh in residents’ minds, the Panama City Beach Police Department knew controlling crime this year was going to be crucial.
“We took a different strategy this year,” Panama City Beach Police Department Chief J.R. Talamantez said. “You know, we looked at it and with the firm belief that everybody has a stake in public safety, it doesn’t matter if you’re a police officer, a business owner, or just a member of the community. Everybody is responsible for safety.”
Talamantez said the department’s focus isn’t on spring breakers.
“Lawbreakers are the ones that gain the attention of law enforcement. Lawbreakers are the ones that ruined the good time for the spring breakers,” Talamantez said.
They’re trying to prevent specific behavior.
“Specifically for those offenses that we were most concerned about, those weapons charges, those violent cases, whether it be involved with shootings or whether it be a robbery, we are significantly down,” Talamantez said. “But our enforcement is still was aggressive, you know, up to today. For spring break, we have arrested a little over 480 people there in a spring break time period.”
Beach Police Officers also pulled over more than 2000 vehicles.
Despite these staggering numbers, Talamantez said he’s pleased with their efforts, which seem to be working.
“All in all this year compared to last, we’ve seen a decrease in crime, a decrease in call volume for calls for service,” Talamantez said. “Those people call a normal one for emergencies.”
But with nearly two weeks still left in the spring break season Talamantez said they aren’t raising the victory flag yet.
“We’re not in the clear,” Talamantez said. “We’re saying that we’re seeing that our strategy is working and we’re going to continue with that strategy.”
The most serious incident that happened this spring break was a knife attack on Sunday.