AMI law enforcers report smooth transition to new year

Throngs of revelers flocked to Anna Maria Island on New Year’s Eve but, from a law enforcement perspective, the year-to-year transition Dec. 31 to Jan. 1 was smooth.

“There were no issues, thank goodness,” said Bradenton Beach Police Det. Sgt. Lenard Diaz.

Bradenton Beach saw a large crowd for a midnight fireworks display on the beach at the Beach House Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N.

Diaz said the traffic going over the Cortez Bridge was heavy before and after midnight.

“People realized it was going to take them a little longer to get here and then home,” he said.

BBPD added a few officers to handle the influx of people and traffic.

“We had a few officers on special detail at Beach House,” he said.

Diaz said the orderly behavior is typical for New Year’s Eve at the restaurant and up and down the beach.

“This really is just a nice family event,” he said.

He also noted the Island Monkey Bus and free trolley service probably kept some partiers from driving.

“Those forms of getting around the island can be a blessing for people who know they will be drinking and shouldn’t drive,” he said.

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said the island’s largest city had no issues on New Year’s Eve.

“There were no arrests or issues — everyone behaved themselves,” he said.

Tokajer said the HBPD did not have additional officers on duty.

The chief did not estimate how many people crossed into the city on Manatee Avenue, where the HBPD has license tag cameras. He did note that for the large volume of visitors, he was pleased there were no law enforcement issues.