Break or bust: An afternoon at the WCSO compound on the beach

Published: Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 04:41 PM.

"We're trying to do as many physical arrests as possible," Chamblee said.

By 2 p.m. Tuesday, officers are busy with several sandy-feet breakers. At the compound WCSO set up across from the Whale's Tail restaurant, those arrested are brought over in handcuffs to give their personal information. Detention deputies then drive the breakers in a non-descript white van sans handcuffs to the jail in DeFuniak Springs. Those looking to pick up their arrested friends are told to expect the entire process to take about five hours.

"Either they make bond or they have to appear in court," explained Ann Petty, one of the detention deputies. "The fine for liquor possession by a person under 21 is $250. After the $20 booking fee and another $2 per day spent in jail, they end up paying a little more. We've had a few with felony charges, like one who had possession of narcotics, who have to stay and see the judge."

The strict punishment has come as a surprise to breakers, Chamblee said.

"We had breakers tell us they'd been partying in Panama City Beach for a week and as soon as they came here, they got arrested," he said. "We've given them plenty of warning, but here they came."

There are about 30 officers patrolling the area surrounding the Whale's Tail beach from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on foot, bike, car, truck and even ATVs in the sand.

"We're looking for clues, going through the crowds and seeing their reactions," said Deputy Jeff McIntosh, who is out of uniform and helping fill out paperwork at the compound recovering from knee surgery.

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