PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — After three recent drownings in Panama City Beach, council members are taking a hard look at how the city patrols the beach.
“So when we look at that double red and the state says water is closed for public use, it means nothing. It means nothing because we have nothing to go ahead and be able to enforce that,” said councilman Hector Solis during a council meeting on Thursday morning.
Solis says he wants the city to do more during double red flags conditions. “Watch our beach patrol, they drive, they’re within 10 feet of the people and they have to tell them to get out the water and as they pass, within 50 feet, the people are right back in the water.”
The city currently doesn’t have an ordinance in place to discipline those who disregard the rules or direction. “It’s time. It’s time for us to have an enforcement mechanism so our people have the tool so they’re not laughed at when they’re telling people to get out of the water,” said Solis.
Mayor Mike Thomas agrees something has to be done. “It is hard to watch people ignore the rule over and over and over again and somebody put their life in danger.”
Councilman Geoff McConnell says, while the new ordinance would help, more needs to be done for a true change. He said, “for me, I would like to see more of an approach where we’re going to get the entire community to help us. I’d like to see the beach services, crews in the condos and the hotels get out and tell me to get out of the water, go down to the water line.”
No ordinance was passed at the meeting. The council has asked the city attorney to create an ordinance that will need to be approved at a later date.