Spring Break Doesn’t Just Happen in the Spring


Bay Co Sheriff FordFrom the Office of Sheriff Tommy Ford

It’s true, Spring Break hits our beautiful beaches in the spring of each year. However, behind the scenes planning for Spring Break and the crowds it brings to our county goes on throughout the year for law enforcement.

After the last Spring Break tourist has left, It’s important that law enforcement in Bay County access results. Keeping locals and visitors safe is our goal, all while encouraging visitors to come and enjoy a safe vacation on Panama City Beach. Could we do something different to produce a better outcome for everyone?

That’s when the planning starts for the next year. Ongoing training is important, as is keeping equipment current. Perhaps one of our newest tools is the multi-agency effort called BayROC. The Bay Real Time Crime Center uses the latest technology to help keep Bay County safe, from border to border. But it is particularly effective during times of increased concentrated population to our beaches like Spring Break.

Deputies receive additional information on the calls for service they are sent to handle. Cameras integrated into BayROC monitor suspects who may try to flee from law enforcement. This information is sent to deputies in the field who can then locate these suspects quickly. Crime Analysts working day and night in BayROC increase effective law enforcement response to spontaneous incidents, giving officers and deputies the opportunity to contain it before it gets too large to quickly control.

Beach Patrol members have already been in training for water rescue. This is an important part of Spring Break. Even though water temperatures remain a little cool for locals, visitors from northern areas find them just right! Beach Patrol deputies are ready for the task of water rescue. Information is disseminated on social media about the Beach Flag Warning System, encouraging locals and visitors to watch for water conditions by checking the beach flags.

On February 9, 2024, Sheriff Tommy Ford and the Police Chiefs of Bay County held a press conference at the Panama City Beach Police Department. The message was clear. Don’t come for Spring Break on our beaches and expect to act like a criminal. You will be arrested.

By declaring boundaries before the first Spring Breaker arrived, law enforcement set the tone for the holiday and alerted anyone planning trouble that this wasn’t the place to carry it out.

By working together, law enforcement can provide safety all year long, including Spring Break.