By Stefany Ostoin
Senior Staff Writer
Panama City Beach crime rate has risen tremendously and may be a danger to college students and locals.
As Spring Break arises quickly, every college student has one thing on their mind. “Where am I going this year?” Spring Break for a college student is like a holiday all in its own. Breaking free from working so diligently and stressing over juggling grades, jobs, and life is most definitely something to celebrate over. So, planning a trip to somewhere like one of America’s hot spots, Panama City Beach, may be on some of your minds, but you may want to rethink that.
Although PCB is a fun place for groups of friends to go together, it isn’t exactly the safest place to be. When spring break rolls around, the population of PCB rises in the thousands, packing the beaches, hotels, resorts, restaurants, etc., with wild and sometimes deranged partiers that destroy anything in their path. During the 2015 Spring Break month of May, the Bay County Sherriff’s office made over 1,000 arrests for various accounted crimes, about triple the number of Spring Break 2014. Those arrests included 202 drug related arrests, compared to 43 in 2014, 49 confiscated firearms, almost 6 times more than in 2014, and sex offenses had doubled from 6 to 11 in 2015.
While Spring Break 2015 was amidst, a video of a group of partiers in an alleged gang rape on a packed beach went viral. This triggered a case with locals and the Panama City Council to maybe shut down PCB Spring Break for good. Spring Break for the local businesses is like making a fortune literally overnight. It can bring in a revenue of millions of dollars just from college student’s pockets alone. So, rejecting or even slowing down Spring Break could possibly hurt their businesses and/or the town as a whole.
Panama City Beach may be a lively trifecta of beach, music and party, but you have to watch your back everywhere you go. As a Spring Breaker myself in 2015, I remember PCB as a crazy place with nothing but college kids and red Solo cups as far as the eye could see. Most certainly not a place to bring children or even be alone for that matter. I remember seeing hundreds of college students flooding the beaches, streets, and establishments- out numbering law enforcement at least 15 to 1. During my stay, I felt uneasy going alone anywhere because of the risk of danger. Even though there were thousands of different characters there, my close-knit group of friends and I managed to make friends with other students from all over the country and world. Including people from Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Maine, Brazil and Turkey. Everyone was there for the same reasons, to escape school and have a good time. So, naturally we all found our common grounds.
Although crime rate has risen, that does not destitute that if you go your stay won’t be like what you paid for. Panama City Beach most certainly has its perks also. Beautiful beaches, meeting new people from all over the country, or even the world, and live music everywhere. Just plan wisely with a group of friends and take all precautions for safety.