Spring Break: Walton County Sheriff’s Office

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Walton County Sheriff Adkinson30A and Walton County are areas where, during Spring Break, there can be as many as 300,000 visitors on any given week through Labor Day, said Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson last year. In 2022, Walton County made more than 1,100 Spring Break arrests.
Chief of Operations Audie Rowell, Walton County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO), recently updated the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) regarding this year’s spring break activities.

He opened his remarks with a quote from former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who said ‘The most effective weapon against crime is cooperation.’

“I want to say thank you,” said Chief Rowell, “thank you to the Commission, thank you to the BCC staff and the citizens of Walton County for your support and understanding – not just for law enforcement, but for public safety. Law enforcement, fire, our EMS folks – I truly believe this is why we are safe, is because we cooperate.” Chief Rowell said he believes Walton County is one of the safest counties in the nation.

“Spring Break is coming up, March 1 through about April 14,” said Chief Rowell. He said the WCSO has been diligently preparing for this through the development of an operation plan to mitigate possible issues and problems.

One of the important components in their preparations is increased staffing. “Literally, about 110% from our normal staffing every day,” he said. During what is commonly called ‘Houston Week’ and the ‘Atlanta Week’ when visitor numbers are heaviest, Chief Rowell said their plan calls for having roughly 54 deputies out at any given time.

Walton County Sheriff Spring Break Arrest“We cancel all days off – that’s including myself. I won’t be taking off during Spring Break and we have overtime positions that deputies sign up for,” he said. “But this year, just to kind of give you an overview of what we’re looking at overtime-wise, for about 44 days of Spring Break, we’re going to have just over a thousand individual overtime positions. So, we’re going to be busy. We’re going to have people out and we’re going to deal with the things we come across.”

Targeting specific areas and quality-of-life issues is another part of their operational plan. This will include the Dogwood Beach Access near Seaside where the Sheriff’s Office will have additional staffing in addition to Rosemary Beach.

Rowell addressed the agency’s policy on underage drinking and large, unruly crowds. “Another thing we do is – we have a zero tolerance. Most people know about our zero tolerance for underage drinking. We also have a zero tolerance for large, unruly crowds. We will not put up with it. Those things will be dispersed and, if arrests need to be made, arrests will be made,” he said.

Rowell also mentioned having problems with large numbers of bicycles in the right-of-way in Seaside. “We had about 100-150 bikes pile up in the right-of-way out onto the street,” he said. “I want to get with (County Administrator) Mr. Sunday to see if we can do some temporary stuff with the right-of-way down there so we can clear those bikes out—even if we have to get down there with a trailer and haul those bikes away, that’s what we’ll do—but we’re going to try to keep the area free of those kinds of things and keep the area looking nice.”

He also said the WCSO does retain the authority to enact a short-term curfew should it become necessary.

Here’s a list of college and district breaks that tend to frequent our area:

March 1st – 10th
Pace Academy
Ball State University
Auburn University
Baylor University
Samford University
Lovett School
University of Georgia
Mercer University
University of Central Missouri
Westminster School
Loyola University Chicago
University of Southern Indiana
University of Memphis

March 11th – 17th
Texas Christian University
University of Florida
University of Mississippi
Missouri State University
Vanderbilt University
Rice University
Florida State University
University of Miami
Ohio University
Southern Mississippi
Indiana University, Bloomington
University of Alabama
Emory University
Indiana State University
Huntsville City Schools
Jackson State University
Fort Worth Independent Schools
Houston Independent Schools
Metro Nashville Public Schools
Louisiana State University
Jackson public schools
Marion County Public Schools
Ohio State University
Dallas Independent School District
Knoxville County Schools
Tennessee Tech University
Hillsborough County Schools, Tampa
University of Tennessee
Shelby County Schools
Texas A&M University
Southeast Missouri State University
Mississippi State University
Lafayette County School District
Hamilton County Chattanooga
Williamson County Public Schools
Eastern Tennessee State University
Wilson County Tennessee
Leon County Tallahassee
Georgia Southern
University of Kentucky
University of Texas, Austin
University of South Florida
University of North Texas
Kennesaw State University
Georgia State University
East Tennessee State University
March 18-24
Okaloosa County, Destin
Columbus State University
Duval County, Jacksonville
Orange County Orlando
Trinity Presbyterian School (Montgomery)
Little Rock School District
Arkansas State University
Jonesboro University of Arkansas
Walton County
University of West Georgia
Georgia Tech
St Louis Public School District
Hooper Academy
Montgomery Academy
University of North Florida
University of Central Florida
Bay County
Panama City
March 25 – 31
Marion County Public Schools
University of Missouri St. Louis
Tulane University
Escambia County, Pensacola
Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland
Dothan City Schools
Birmingham Public Schools
Jefferson County Schools
Indianapolis Public Schools
Cincinnati Public Schools
Rutherford County Schools
Shelby County Schools
Chicago Public Schools
Baldwin County Public Schools
University of West Florida
Dothan City Schools
Lafayette School District
University of New Orleans
April 1 – 7
Jefferson Parish Schools
Loyola University New Orleans
Southeastern Louisiana University
Richland County School District One
Cobb County
Gwinnett County
Dekalb County
Fulton County
Muscogee County
Fayette County
Atlanta Public Schools
Jefferson County Schools
Richland School District Two
Charleston County School District
Biloxi County Schools
East Baton Rouge Schools
St. Tammany Parish School System
McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Forsyth County, Georgia
Decatur, Georgia
Hamilton County Schools
April 15-19
Mobile County Public Schools