This is the blog for Robert Vincent, Chief of Police for the Gulfport (Florida) Police Department. Please feel free to leave comments, but keep in mind that anything appearing on this page may be subject to retention and disclosure in accordance with Florida public records law.

Please keep your posts clean and respectful. Comments are subject to review, and I do not permit lewdness, obscenity, or personal attacks.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Drag Shows and Children


Drag shows with children are not illegal.

A lot of folks seem to be confused about the new law created with the passage of House Bill 1423. Perhaps because of inaccurate reporting, many believe the law bans drag performances in the presence of children. It does not.

Since the bill became law, I have received calls from people, including one from a state legislator, asking for GPD to enforce the new law in venues that have hosted drag shows for years. In response, I have had to explain that there is nothing inherently illegal about a drag show, even if children are in the audience.

The Bill created Florida Statute 827.11 prohibiting the exposure of children to adult live performances, which by definition involves nudity or certain sexual conduct. As The Gabber newspaper recently pointed out in their Hard Candy column, “a legit drag show has zero nudity and zero sexualization.” This means that, unless the performers are taking their clothes off or engaging in sexual activities or specific lewd behavior, children are welcome to participate.

Under the new law, any adult live performance, drag or otherwise, may not expose children to the content. GPD will investigate any complaints where sexual or nude exhibitions are taking place with minors in attendance. We will not, however, assume that any given drag show is about sex. If you call to report a violation, be prepared to answer specific questions about the unlawful nature of a performance. If you cannot describe anything that is against the law, we will not send officers to interfere with the show.

For reference, here is the complete language of the new law:


Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Boondocking in Gulfport?


We’ve had some recent questions about overnight camping, particularly at the beach. What’s the scoop? Is Gulfport the new best place for van life?

Unfortunately, no matter how you look at it, the answer is no.

First up—the beach is closed every night from midnight to 4:00 AM. This includes the parking lot. While this does not prohibit someone from parking a vehicle there overnight, it would prohibit someone from occupying said vehicle during those hours.

Sec. 17-21. - Hours of operation: All parks are open to the public every day of the year from 4:00 a.m. to midnight. The city council may establish alternative hours of operation for each park or section thereof. All such alternative hours of operation shall be posted at each park to which said hours apply.

Given this, one might logically conclude that it’s okay to park a camper at the beach during all other hours. Sorry but this one doesn’t work either. Gulfport requires a city-issued permit to “place” a recreational vehicle anywhere in the entire city. Except for special events where this ordinance is waived, I can assure you that the city will not issue a permit for public, overnight camping.


Sec. 21-2. - Permit to maintain recreational vehicle; required: It shall be unlawful to place, keep or maintain any recreational vehicle upon any lot or parcel of ground within the city, except in a designated recreational vehicle park, unless such person shall first obtain from the city manager, or his or her designee, a permit to do so. For the purpose of this chapter, recreational vehicle means any structure intended for or capable of human habitation, mounted upon wheels and capable of being moved from place to place, either by its own power or by power supplied by some vehicle attached or to be attached thereto.

So what do we do about it? As with most police response to non-life-safety code violations, we prioritize enforcement based on calls for service. If a small, class-b camper van is taking up one parking space for a day trip to the beach, we will probably leave them alone unless someone calls to complain. On the other hand, that same van would likely get a knock on the door if we find it there, occupied, in the middle of the night. Also, if you decide to park your 36-foot class-a rig across six parking spaces during a special event, you will quickly be asked to move along.

We also have to establish that a vehicle is “capable of human habitation” before we can declare it a violation. I would say that it would have to have a kitchenette, a bed, and a toilet at minimum. If we can’t tell by looking through an open door or windows, we have to assume it’s just a van and not a recreational vehicle.

If you do wish to make a complaint about any suspected violations, please note that Florida law prohibits enforcement based on anonymous tips. Before we can take any official action, we will need your name and address as part of the record.