OCSO hosting roundtable preparing for spring breakers
OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WEAR) —
The beginning of spring break is just days away for some schools and universities.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office is hosting a roundtable to make sure condo management, beach vendors and city residents are ready for the spring break crowd.
Wild and crazy times at the beach are just what many of the nation's college kids want out of their time in Destin this spring break.
The sheriff's office is ready for them.
"The sheriff's office wants everyone to come here and have a good time. That's been voiced for the last several years. However, we want you to abide by the laws, and we want you to obey the rules while you are here," said Captain Charlie Nix of the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office.
Last year, they arrested more than 500 spring breakers.
No one died during two of the most hectic months on the beach.
Captain Nix has worked spring break almost his entire career.
He said the hardest part of his job: telling parents their child won't come home, hence the zero-tolerance policy.
"To us, it's not about the arrests, it's about the result. Does zero tolerance work? For the last two years, we could report we didn't have any major injuries, we didn't have any kids falling off balconies, we didn't have any kids killed while they were here. They were making memories, versus something happening to them here," Captain Nix said.
Business has always had a love-hate relationship with spring breakers.
Clifford Atwell operates The Pirate Ship in the harbor and spends part of spring break avoiding pontoons and jet skis operated by out of towners.
"it's really important that we keep a little order in the harbor because there's just not enough room in the harbor for the boats and things that are there. Of course, they also like to partake in a little alcoholic activity, so you know, even though they have a safe driver on board, they still are a bit rowdy," Atwell said.
He doesn't think the sheriff's tactics will hurt his bottom line.
"I don't think they will be cracking down too hard. I don't worry about them driving business away, per se, but it is spring break and they still need to have some fun," Atwell said.
The spring break season starts in just a couple of days. The earliest spring break will be St. Rose College in New York. they will start their spring break on February 10. The season goes until April 22, but the focus for the sheriff's office will be the stretch between March 5 and April 6.