Panama City Beach Police arrest more than 250 so far this spring break season
PANAMA CITY BEACH − The past couple of weeks have been nothing short of busy for the Beach Police.
According to Chief JR Talamantez of the Panama City Beach Police Department, his officers this month already have arrested more than 240 adults and a dozen juveniles for "a variety of crimes," many of which he described as being "traditional spring break criminal offenses."
This includes disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, possession of narcotics, underage drinking and drinking alcohol on the sandy beach in March, which is illegal in PCB.
"It's in line with what we see almost every March," Talamantez said. "The increase in arrests reflects the zero tolerance approach that we take during the spring break timeframe. ... We (also) have more officers working the streets now due to our mutual aid partnerships and our modified patrol schedule.
"More officers out on the streets will equate to more arrests."
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Despite the many recent arrests, Talamantez believes this spring break season is off to a good start. He said his department's goal is not to "drive up arrest numbers," but to prevent any types of "major incidents" from happening and protect the public.
From March 26-27 of last year, more than 160 people were arrested throughout Bay County in connection to "Panamaniac," a chaotic and unsanctioned event that gained traction on social media and brought waves of unruly tourists to the Panama City Beach area.
Those arrested over the two days racked up almost 260 combined charges, of which more than 70 involved drugs, 60 involved guns and 15 involved alcohol. Many of these criminals traveled to the area from Alabama.
In a press conference in February, local law enforcement officials noted they are aware of flyers circulating on the internet for similar events this year. They also said they anticipate spring crowds will be heaviest from March 10 to April 10, with the peak time being the last week of March.
Talamantez said he was notified Wednesday that a law enforcement agency in Alabama successfully intercepted a group of individuals that morning who were traveling to the Panama City Beach area with firearms and ski masks.
He reminded tourists to use their common sense while visiting Panama City Beach and remember: "If it is illegal at home, it's illegal here."
"Don't take chances just because you're on vacation," Talamantez said. "It's not going to be worth it. Go home with good memories, not a criminal record."
This article originally appeared on The News Herald: Panama City Beach Police arrests more than 250 people so far in March