Panama City officials prepared for spring breakers

Panama City officials prepared for Spring Breakers.
Panama City officials prepared for Spring Breakers.(Allison Baker)
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 9:36 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Law enforcement agencies are doing everything they can to make sure spring break doesn’t get out of hand again.

“I feel like we are far better prepared going into this spring break than we have been in the past,” Panama City Police Chief Mark Smith said.

In Panama City Beach, there are several spring break laws in place that started on March 1 and end on March 31. However, across the Hathaway Bridge in Panama City, some of those same rules don’t apply.

For example, the sale of alcohol is allowed past 2 a.m. in Panama City, whereas in PCB it is not.

“If they are still wanting to continue their party atmosphere, they come over to the Panama City side to the adult establishments which are open for the extra two hours,” Chief Smith said.

Panama City Commissioners last year considered adopting the alcohol ordinance, but after speaking and working with local businesses they decided not to adopt it.

“There was an agreement that hey we are responsible for enforcing what we need to enforce on our property and with ever activities happen on our property,” Panama City Commissioner Josh Street said. “That is what the businesses are committed to doing this year. As long as they follow through with that, I do not anticipate us passing any more laws.”

Since businesses in Panama City can stay open later in March, Chief Smith said he planned ahead before Spring Break season arrived.

“I have been meeting with the business owners of those late-night establishments and have been establishing some agreements with them that if it gets too bad that they are willing to close early,” Chief Smith said. “As well as they are going to work diligently with the police department and the fire department to maintain their numbers within the inside and handle their own internal security.”

Chief Smith says for those looking to come here for spring break, come and have fun but don’t break the law.

“Don’t come here as a criminal and leave here and find yourself in the bay county jail or go home on probation and come back here and answer to the court system,” Chief Smith said.

All local law enforcement agencies have partnered together for spring break. Chief Smith said they all might be separate agencies, but they can unify as one quickly.