Holmes Beach police take action at 52nd Street on the beach, where they enforced the “no alcohol on the beach” ordinance. Islander Photo: Courtesy Joan McArthur
Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer patrols the beach in the 6600 block of Gulf Drive, looking for open alcoholic beverages and underage drinking. Islander Photo: Merab-Michal Favorite
Anna Maria Island is a natural destination during spring break, with its azure waters and warm weather.
While local businesses welcome visitors taking advantage of their time off school, law enforcement doesn’t want spring-breakers breaking ordinances, especially one that prohibits alcohol on the beach.
“This time of year, we always increase our beach patrol officers on the weekends and during the spring break vacation,” said Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale. “We will be focusing on violations of the alcohol ordinance and underage drinking.”
Officials in both the Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach police departments say they are beefing up their beach patrol efforts.
Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said his department has a zero tolerance for “violations of that sort.” He said his officers cited at least 10 people in the past week for open containers on the beach and underage drinking.
“We have a little machine that we can wave over an open container and it will read whether or not it’s an alcoholic beverage,” he said. “We are looking for people who display signs of intoxication. If the person is underage, we will do a Breathalyzer.”
In addition, both departments were participating in a nationwide click-it or ticket campaign in the first two weeks of March.
Tokajer said his department is targeting speeding, seatbelt violations and DUIs.
Speciale said with increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic in Bradenton Beach, officers are more concerned with buckled seatbelts and safe driving.
“Bumper-to-bumper traffic makes it almost impossible to speed in Bradenton Beach,” Speciale said. “But we will be participating in click-it or ticket, and especially watching for drivers who don’t wear their seatbelts.”
HBPD monthly stats
The Holmes Beach Police Department reported 17 arrests in February in a report released March 5.
Those arrests included seven criminal traffic arrests, one domestic battery, one DUI, two warrants and five arrests relating to alcohol, which included both underage drinking and open containers on the beach.
One of the 17 arrests involved a juvenile.
According to Tokajer, HBPD officers responded to 214 calls in February, with Holmes Beach dispatch fielding 820 calls.
The HBPD also worked 16 traffic crashes in February. The department issued 66 citations, 42 written warnings and 77 parking tickets, the report said.
The report said HBPD officers also offered assistance to other agencies. They worked with BBPD five times, assisted Manatee County Sheriff’s Office seven times and 39 times helped West Manatee Fire Rescue and EMS.
There were 10 noise complaints in Holmes Beach in February. In three instances, HBPD found city noise ordinance violations — “any sound in quantities that interferes with the enjoyment of life or property” or, as Tokajer puts it, “any sound that annoys or disturbs someone.”
The ordinance prohibits noise exceeding 65 decibels 10 p.m.-7a.m. However, the Holmes Beach City Commission will consider lowering that to 40 decibels at its March 12 meeting at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.
Security and safety
Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer is focusing on warning residents to not to leave their valuables in parked cars in a safety report released for March.
He said there was an increase in vehicle thefts in 2013 in the city and three of the five cars that were stolen in Holmes Beach had keys left inside the vehicle.
Tokajer recommends locking all vehicles and hiding valuables when leaving a parked car.
He said that leaving valuables and keys in plain site for passersby makes “you an easy target of opportunity.”
HBPD officers also are promoting several safety tips in March including safe bicycling and golf cart operation and parking violations. Information on those topics is available online at www.holmesbeachfl.org/Cities/COHB/documents.asp
And Tokajer encouraged Florida residents to register emergency contact information at toinformfamiliesfirst.org for emergencies. TIFF allows motorists to register contact names and information that are accessible only by law enforcement through driver’s licenses.