PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Rowdy crowds gathered in large numbers throughout Panama City Beach during spring break last year, prompting many businesses to close their doors early.
Walmart on Front Beach Road was trashed and shots were fired in broad daylight on Thomas Drive.
One person was shot and chaos ensued.
During Wednesday’s news conference, Panama City Beach Police Chief J.R. Talamantez said law enforcement has been preparing for spring break for months to prevent a repeat of last year.
“We will be just as aggressive, if not more, than what you saw last year if we see the same type of activity, and to the individuals that are just set on coming down here and causing disruption, despite all your rage, you’re still going to end up like a rat in a cage,” Talamantez said.
Talamantez said they have developed a comprehensive plan to combat the crowds, including increasing patrols, strategic traffic management, and partnerships with local law enforcement agencies.
This plan was built on an intelligence‐led policing model.
Talamantez also said new laws will help quell the so-called ‘Panamaniac’ takeovers.
“There are new laws in place that now allow us to pursue civil action against those individuals that are promoting events that will adversely affect public safety,” Talamantez said.
Talamantez said they anticipate that March 23rd through March 27th will be the peak weekend for potential problems.
Law enforcement has been working with Bay District Superintendent Bill Husfelt to ensure no schools are scheduling their proms that weekend.