MEXICO BEACH, Fla. — As Mexico Beach residents learn the city will soon do away with it’s police department, many have concerns.
“I don’t want to lose that personal connection that we have with our local police officers,” said Hilary Davidson, one of those residents.
“They’ve always been friendly and would do anything for us that they could,” said her husband, Maitland Davidson.
Residents said they feel they have a community connection with their local police officers, and are worried that will be lost in the law enforcement transition to Bay County Sheriff’s Office.
“You don’t get that everywhere and that’s a special thing,” said Annette Coffield, another concerned resident.
For her and others, they feel BCSO has big shoes to fill.
“I don’t know that if we get police officers from Bay County that they would give us the personal attention that we are used to,” said Mrs. Davidson.
Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said on Wednesday that he’s making that a priority.
“That would be our goal is to be just an integral part of the community down there,” he said. “We very much look forward to working with the community down there, getting to know them better and serving them.”
Sheriff Ford said there will be deputies permanently assigned to Mexico Beach. On top of that, all of the current Mexico Beach police officers will have the opportunity to apply to work for BCSO, with the possibility that they would be assigned to the area.
“I’m pretty confident that there will be a few retained by the Sheriff’s Office,” said Andy Anderson, the City Administrator for Mexico Beach. “So instead of a shield on their chest they’ll have a star.”
Anderson said he is also working to make the transition as smooth as possible; not just for the residents, but for the officers too.
“There’s some anxiety there but they’re professionals,” he said. “I’m confident that they’ll handle themselves accordingly.”
News 13 tried to get a comment from Police Chief Anthony Kelly, but the city administrator says he will be working with the media through the transition.