PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Panama City Beach Police and other law enforcement agencies put the beach crowd management plan that was announced on Thursday by city leaders into action on Friday.
PCBPD has set up their mobile command center near the intersection of South Thomas Drive and Front Beach Road, across from the Circle K store where a large group disturbance broke out over Memorial Day weekend.
“There’s no clubs, no bars so they’re making their own in parking lots,” said James Beard, manager at King of Scooters Rentals on Front Beach Road. He said that the influx of visitors has been good for business, but that the pop-up parties are driving people away from the area.
“It’s also hurting with the families,” said Beard. “They don’t want to come into situations like that with a lot of people that’ve been drinking.”
City leaders and law enforcement have said that they are taking a strict approach when it comes to violence and crime in the area. PCBPD is sharing their mobile command center with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, and there are 40 additional officers from other local municipalities patrolling the area on Friday, Saturday and possibly Sunday.
PCBPD Chief Drew Whitman said he’s looking for businesses to help out with their efforts to keep residents and visitors safe.
“If they see something that doesn’t look right, call us,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for. Everybody needs to work together as a team here.”
Some local business owners and managers agree. At Shipwreck LTD. on Front Beach Road, they’re ready to call the police about any suspicious activity.
“If something looks like it’s getting out of hand or a little rowdy or a crowd is getting too big, then yeah let’s call somebody and let’s get everything under control before anything else happens down here because we just want to have a fun summer,” said Alyssa Barnett, a Marketing Manager for the store. “It’s already been a really rough last few months with the virus, we’re all just here to enjoy things and we don’t want to sit here and cause harm for other people.”
Waffle House, which has a location located next to the Circle K on South Thomas Drive, had a similar response.
“The safety and security of our Associates and Customers has been and continues to be a high priority at Waffle House,” said Njeri Boss, the PR Director for Waffle House, Inc.. “We have a set of policies and procedures in place to support that goal, including bringing in security guards where needed.”
Whitman said that he understands that people have been stuck inside their homes for quite some time and that he wants visitors to enjoy themselves while they are here, but has remained clear in saying that crime and violence will not be tolerated.