Spring Break: Underage drinking, drugs leads to nearly 1,000 arrests on Gulf Coast beaches
GULF COAST —
The alcohol and drugs are flowing on Gulf Coast beaches. There are no more warnings for underage drinking or drugs, just a trip to jail. The number of people making that trip is nearing one-thousand.
Law enforcement agencies say they just want to keep everyone safe. There have already been two fatal drunk driving accidents in Bay County and a fatal hit and run in Gulf Shores involving alcohol. There's also property damage.
This year, there is a zero tolerance policy
Gulf Coast beaches are the destination for young spring breakers. Underage and illegal party goers will get party favors- not citations, handcuffs.
"It didn't appear they were working. We wanted them to. Now we are going to physical arrests," said Lt. Keith Chamblee of the Walton County Sheriff's Office.
Walton County has a mobile command center set up on Miramar Beach. It's getting noticed.
"Every time we come down here, there are four or five kids under the tent getting arrested," said one college student.
Bay County is reporting 420 arrests.
Walton County has had 574 arrests over the last few weeks. 156 of them involved teens under 18.
School resource officers are even on the beaches. One found these drugs, including cocaine inside a hotel room. Three college students were arrested. But students aren't the only ones keeping police busy."What are you doing here? Where is your id?," said police to a man sleeping in the bushes.
Panama City Beach Police call them 100 milers- people from Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia with no where to stay but plenty to sell.
"We arrested four individuals who came down here this morning with no place to stay. We arrested them with marijuana and cocaine. they were down here to sell that because they had a total of 20 dollars between them. They were here to party, to sell illegal drugs and go back home," said Panama City Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman.
Police in Covington County are even stopping drugs, like ecstasy and molly, from getting to the beach.
"We began our probably search of the vehicle and found 18 bags of marijuana in the center consol," said River Falls Police Chief Greg Jackson.
Four people between the ages of 18 and 19 were arrested following that traffic stop.
Police say they aren't trying to end the party. They just want it to continue safely.
Gulf Shores isn't seeing the same numbers. Police are only arresting one or two underage drinkers a day.