The Cop Column
May, 2006
Sgt. Rick Hord
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office

A Cop’s Wish List for Tourist Season

            Do cops dread tourist season?

            Some do, for much the same reasons as anyone else: the crowds, especially on the roads.

            On the other hand, quite a few look forward to summer, also for the same reasons as thousands of other locals and visitors.

Are the cops extra busy during the summer?

Yes and no. Contrary to conventional wisdom, activity for the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office does not soar through the roof. July and August will almost certainly be our busiest months in 2006, but if recent trends hold true they won’t be any busier than the slowest two months of 2010. We’re quite busy year-round.

Here’s this Deputy’s wish list: suggestions that would make life easier and safer at any time of the year, especially during the summer.

1-Drivers: don’t get stuck in the middle of an intersection when the light changes. Florida law says you should not enter an intersection unless the coast is clear to proceed all the way through. That means you’re sometimes required to stop for a green light. The common practice of venturing halfway and waiting for a chance to go the rest of the way is a major cause of gridlock… and it’s illegal.

2-Cashiers, servers, and clerks: check ID’s. Not just for alcohol and tobacco, but any time a customer uses a credit card or a check. Bartenders, waitresses, and others have intercepted a lot of stolen cards and checks… and helped us catch quite a few thieves in the process.

3-Beachgoers: know where you are. This one isn’t as silly as it may seem. When you’re walking down the beach, every condo starts to look the same. It’s not just children who get lost along our miles of white sand. 

4-Travelers: get sufficient rest. The dangers of drunk drivers have been making headlines for years, but there’s been little outcry over fatigued drivers. Perhaps there should be, as many experts believe sleepy drivers may be responsible for more crashes than drunk drivers.

5-Motorists: know the “move over” law. Statistically, the most hazardous place law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs must work is on the side of the road. Florida averages one public safety professional per day struck by traffic while carrying out his or her duties. That’s why the law requires all traffic to “move over” when an emergency vehicle is stopped by the side of the road with its emergency lights flashing. On a multi-lane road, you must move out of the lane closest to the stopped emergency vehicle. If that’s not possible, the law says you must slow to 20 MPH below the speed limit. 

6-Vacationers: remember, you’re on vacation. Sad, but true: more than a few vacationers bring ill will and harsh tempers with them. Getting into any kind of fight, or serious family argument, is a good way to ruin a vacation. We see it happen every day.

7- Everybody: live by the Golden Rule. Can you imagine how many problems that would solve?