NewsPinellas County


Law enforcement leaders prepare for a busy Spring Break at the beach

Several colleges, K-12 districts off March 14-18
Beach Cop
Posted at 4:58 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 05:34:48-04

CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. — This year could end up being the biggest Spring Break ever in Tampa Bay with more than 600,000 students all out of school at the same time. That number doesn’t even factor in out-of-town and out-of-state visitors.

Safety will be a big priority as thousands of people pack the beaches.

“I think it’s going to be extremely busy,” said Lieutenant Meg Hasty of Clearwater Police Department.

Hasty said on a typical day, seven to 12 officers would patrol the sand on Clearwater Beach. This Spring Break, they’ll have up to 30 officers at a time cruising along the shoreline. Alcohol is their biggest focus.

“Much like tailgating at a football game, we know people will have coolers in their car and that’s something that the bicycle team and traffic enforcement team will be looking for and that we have zero tolerance for,” Hasty added.

An open container could cost beachgoers $118. Clearwater Beach is family-friendly and officers plan to keep it that way.

Open container law

Hasty said open containers are also not allowed on the Beach Walk area, on sidewalks, or on public streets.

She also said since Florida allowed to go drinks as a way for businesses to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, they are working to educate tourists about the rules of only consuming those beverages on private property or inside their hotel rooms or vacation rentals.

“I think education is one of the biggest challenges we have. Everybody is coming and going from different places at different times,” she elaborated.

Lifeguards will also beef up staff at the seven lifeguard towers on Clearwater Beach. There will also be lifeguards on four-wheelers patrolling near the water.

While water rescues are a big focus, missing children tend to be one of the biggest issues during Spring Break.

“We suggest taking a photo that morning of your kid. That way we have an accurate photo and description of the child,” suggested Patrick Brafford, Clearwater Beach’s Lifeguard Manager.

Here in Tampa Bay, 99,417 college and university students (including USF, St. Leo University, and Hillsborough County Community College) are off school the week of March 14-18.

In addition to that, 542,409 K-12 students are off school March 14-18 from Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, Manatee, Hernando, Highlands, and DeSoto counties. (Citrus and Polk counties have a different Spring Break week off.)

Businesses are stocked and ready. “We are expecting to be crushed with all the schools coming down. I think it will be the best Spring Break down here in a long, long time," said Peter Czajkowski, the owner of Jamminz Beach Bar.