Lights, sirens — and even cameras — will help focus law enforcement on their task on Anna Maria Island in 2019.
As 2018 waned, top officers in Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach resolved to continue serving and protecting the citizenry.
“For the past year, we’ve had a good year. And we’re looking forward to another year of reducing crime,” Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said Dec. 27.
Resolving “to do the best to protect the citizens, visitors and businesses,” the chief anticipated a license-plate recognition system approved by city commissioners would be operational by March.
The roadside cameras will capture license tag numbers and provide directional information for tracking suspects in police investigations. Tokajer expects it will be a “valuable tool” for his department. Manatee County and Longboat Key have similar systems in place.
The system will include five cameras that are positioned to scan license plates as vehicles enter and leave Holmes Beach and alert police of stolen vehicles or those connected with suspended licenses and warrants.
Cameras will be positioned at the Anna Maria Island Bridge to read tags on vehicles traveling east and west, one at East Bay Drive and two will track tags on vehicles traveling north and south on Gulf Drive at the city’s southern border with Bradenton Beach at 27th Street.
Tokajer said he looks forward to a safe year for residents, visitors and business owners, as well as a healthy year for staff.
“We’ve made some high-profile arrests” in 2018, he added, including the alleged burglar who assaulted a woman in her home on 75th Street and expects continued diligence in policing and investigations.
The chief thanked the sponsors of National Night Out, as well as the programs that brought people and cops together for coffee and ice cream, and said he looks forward to continuing HBPD’s outreach efforts in the new year.
In Bradenton Beach, Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz said he’s hopeful the city will continue its trajectory as a tourist destination and that police officers ensure “everybody goes home safe at night.”
This was Sgt. Mike Jones first full year heading the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office substation in Anna Maria. He was assigned to the position in mid-December 2017.
In 2018, the city contracted with MCSO for two additional officers, creating four overlapping shifts throughout the day, he said.
Jones also noted MCSO has been working well with HBPD and he observed a downward trend of reported crimes.
Anna Maria’s top cop is looking forward to a safe 2019, with residents and visitors continuing to report suspicious activity. He emphasizes if people “see something” to “say something.”
“Please, remember to lock up your valuables and always be cognizant of young children near water hazards,” Jones added.