Miramar Beach, FL (TFC) – A website titled TotalFratMove.com suggested that fraternity brothers whose behavior resulted in them being run out of Panama City migrate their Spring Break adventures to the neighboring community of Walton County, FL. The local Sheriff’s Department sent the website a letter advising them against such a move. It’s caused quite the discussion along the coast. It would probably be a good idea for the website to heed the Sheriff’s advice.
I’m a police accountability activist, and despite very public spats between the Sheriff and I that wound up making national news, there’s a reason I call Walton County my home. As the Sheriff’s Department stated in its letter, the community is a fraternity of sorts. It is a very close-knit community of people that look out for each other on a level you don’t find anywhere outside of the Appalachian Mountains. Not much attention is paid to race, religion, country of origin, income level, or anything like that; but the community looks out for its own to the detriment of outsiders. It took ten years before I was referred to as a “local.” I have the overwhelming feeling that the Sheriff was actually trying to protect the frat boys.
On some level the frat boys are correct. The average Deputy in Walton County has earned a degree of respect beyond that of most departments. A typical Walton County Deputy isn’t going to cuff you over a couple of joints; they’re going to tell you to crush them into the ground. Drinking underage or a fake ID won’t typically result in a felony conviction. You’ll be told to pour out the booze and give up your ID. However, that habit of overlooking minor crimes comes at a cost. Becoming combative, failure to comply with an order that is trying to save you from arrest, or telling the Deputy that “my daddy’s a lawyer” while poking him in the chest will probably cause a meeting between your face and a baton.
Many normal frat boy antics may cause serious injury in Walton County. People that get into fights in bars, cause property damage, and disturb the relative tranquility of the community are known to fall down multiple times on their way to the car. What can I say? There’s a lot of gravel in Walton County. It’s slippery.
With some of the more serious behaviors associated with fraternity Spring Breaks, the Sheriff’s Department becomes the least of the worries. The Department provided a geography lesson about where Whale’s Tale is located in its letter. Behaviors like getting a girl so drunk she’s at the point of unconsciousness or slipping her pills before taking her back to your room might result in another geography lesson.
On your way to the beach, you turn off of the interstate and drive through miles upon miles of nothing but trees and swamps. Miles to the East of that area of nothing is another area of nothing called Black Creek. It’s literally the middle of nowhere. The nearest Wal-Mart is over an hour away. We’re talking about an area where people still bootleg whiskey. It’s a marshy area filled with alligators, mosquitoes, and more secrets than you can possibly imagine. Crimes that actually have a victim may result in you seeing this area first hand. The funny thing about Black Creek is that while everybody knows what happened out there, nobody ever sees a thing.
If you’re looking for a place to relax, drink some beer, smoke some pot in private, enjoy walks along clean beaches, eat wonderful food, and adopt a slower pace of life for a week, enjoy your time in Walton County. Send me a message, and I’ll buy the first round. Walton County is the type of place you can take your little sister, and the people there want it to stay that way. If you’re looking for a place to act like an idiot, sexually assault people, throw stuff at kids, or engage in some of the other behaviors that got you chased out of Panama City, I’d suggest moving a little further down Highway 98.