Spring break 2019 has come to an end, and this year, Okaloosa County saw more spring break related arrests than last year by more than 200.
Sgt. Jason Fulghum, head of spring break operations at the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, said that Hurricane Michael brought more visitors to Okaloosa County, which resulted in more arrests, 677 arrests to be exact.
"They came here instead of going there because of the perceived damage they had from over there," Fulghum said.
Another reason behind the increase in arrests was the extended spring break period of seven weeks — from March 2 to April 27. Last year, spring break was around four weeks, Fulghum said.
The majority of the arrests were underage possession of alcohol. However, 26 of those arrests were related to narcotics.
"That's quite a bit of an increase," Fulghum said, "I think we had six or eight last year ... the majority of the arrests were marijuana. I think the increase is attributed to the national push, if you will, to legalize marijuana. It is causing people to be more complacent about it."
Although the number of deputies that patrolled the beach was not increased, Fulghum said they all worked more hours than they did last year. According to a summary from the Sheriff's Office, around $88,000 was paid in overtime pay.
"They did a great job. It's long hours," Fulghum said. "A lot of people look and see you riding an ATV down the beach and think 'That's got to be fun.' It quits being fun quick. It's hot and kinda rough on you.
"The guys put in a lot of hours, and they did a fantastic job."