Panama City police give spring break advice to students


Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

Rachel Hagenbaugh

Whether spring break consists of driving to Myrtle Beach, S.C., or flying to Panama City, Fla., there are some safety precautions students can take to ensure a safe, fun and jail-free vacation.

Robert Harding, chief of police at the Panama City Beach Police Department, said about 350,000 people came to Panama City for spring break. Of those 350,000 people, about 2,000 were arrested. He said typically 1 to 3 percent of the people who come to Panama City for spring break get arrested.

“Students can go home with great memories as long as they use good common sense,” Harding said.

Students need to carry their state ID cards or licenses on them at all times, Harding said. Whether the students are on the beach or in a club, they need to have their identification with them, especially if they are drinking.

Harding said he advises everyone to be a responsible drinker. He said students need to practice “self-responsibility tactics” and to know their limitations.

“An excess of alcohol can turn into a poison,” Harding said.

Students also need to be aware of specific laws each state has, Harding said. In Florida, the seatbelt law requires that everyone in the vehicle must have a seatbelt on. Harding said it’s also important that students keep the stereo down. Students need to be aware of their surroundings and pay attention to what is going on around them, Harding said.

“If it will get you in trouble at home, it will get you in trouble here,” Harding said.

In Panama City, laws allow people to drink at their hotel or condo property, in bars and clubs and on the beach as long as it’s not in a glass container. Harding said as long as people stay within those limits, they won’t have any problems. People cannot walk on the sidewalks or streets with an alcoholic beverage or they will be stopped, he said.

Harding said students should never go off on their own or leave their friends by themselves. They need to remember to use the “buddy system.”

“Whether you’re in a bar, club, restaurant or on the beach, never assume that it’s a safe place to wander around,” Harding said.

If students have any questions or concerns about anything, they can always flag down a police officer, Harding said.

“Students can have a great time if they just use common sense, manners and don’t get out of hand,” Harding said.

Contact Rachel Hagenbaugh at [email protected].