The New Year swept in with crushingly cold temperatures and fewer arrests than one might expect. Across the three-county area, several law enforcement agencies reported that no one had yet been arrested in 2018.
The area's first arrest, made by Walton County Sheriff's Office, was at 12:45 a.m. on Jan. 1. The suspect was a 51-year-old DeFuniak Springs man who faced deputies while holding a bottle of vodka and declaring allegiance with the Confederacy.
"I am a Confederate soldier and I will fight anyone," Gary Lamar Bowers said, according to his WCSO arrest report. He and his son had been in a fight and he had blood on his pants and feet.
His son told deputies that his father had tried to stab him with a large sword, but missed by 2 inches and stabbed the bathroom wall instead. Neighbors told deputies that they'd been treated to a firestorm of profanity and that he'd thrown his own front door into the yard and destroyed it with an ax, the report said.
"Arrest me, I dare you," he told deputies. "Take me to the crazy house. I'm a bad (expletive). I will kill my son when and if he comes back." Bowers had invited his son to the home, the deputy noted.
Bowers was charged with breach of the peace and assault with intent to commit a felony.
The second arrest came at 1:23 a.m., when Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested a 28-year-old man from Springfield, Illinois for trespassing who'd returned to Coyote Ugly after being removed from the nightclub.
One minute later, a 47-year-old man was arrested in Pace after his ex-girlfriend complained he'd been peeking in her window, according to Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office spokesman Rich Aloy.
At 4:36, Fort Walton Beach Police Department officers charged a woman with DUI.
And at 1 p.m. on Jan. 1, Niceville Police Department officers pulled over a vehicle because the driver, a 23-year-old Niceville man, wasn't wearing his seat belt.
The driver couldn't provide a license and the officer learned it had been suspended a few weeks earlier, according to his arrest report. During a search, a smoking pipe was discovered in an orange bookbag in the back seat.
Valparaiso, DeFuniak Springs and Crestview were all quiet for the first day of the New Year. No one answered the phone at the Shalimar Police Department, the area's smallest law enforcement agency.
Although official reports are still being generated, Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office had the most arrests in 2017, with approximately 9,460. Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office was the second busiest, logging 6,526. Walton County Sheriff's Office made 3,881 arrests.
Of area police departments, Fort Walton Beach Police Department logged the most arrests, with 944 arrests. Crestview Police Department had 713, followed by DeFuniak Springs with 510, Niceville with 449 and Valparaiso with 105.