Bob Thill and his wife, Susan, set off their alarm not once but twice the night they moved into their Lido Shores home six years ago.
Sarasota Police Officer 1st Class Donzia Franklin, better known as “Officer D.,” responded to the scene. She gave them a lecture and a warning, but before she left, she told the newcomers that she had one more warning for them: traffic.
Thill, who is now president of the Lido Shores Homeowners Association, said that it’s an example of how Franklin has looked out for neighbors “between the bridges” on Lido, St. Armands and Bird keys for the past 17 years, often while patrolling on bicycle.
“She’s the kind of police officer who gives respect, and so you respect her,” Thill said.
Many of the 110 people who gathered Tuesday, April 26, on St. Armands Circle, to honor Franklin as she accepted the Lido Shores 2011 Community Service Award had a personal memory of Franklin, who became a sworn police officer in 1991.
Residents say that Franklin embodies community police work: She has pulled over teenagers and followed them home to insist that they tell their parents they were speeding (she knew that a lecture from Mom and Dad would have a greater impact than a ticket). She has driven residents home after they have had too much to drink. She notifies neighborhood associations immediately when a burglary occurs so that they can send email notifications to members. And even though she takes the role seriously, she still sometimes has a little fun on the job.
St. Armands Circle Association President Andrew Vac said that he and a group of other association members were having dinner at Crab & Fin restaurant after a Circle jazz concert. At some point during the meal, Franklin spotted them and came out with their food on a tray and pretended like she was their server.
“She exemplifies what I think police people should be,” Vac said.
The Lido Shores award isn’t the first honor Franklin has received for her police work. She was named Sarasota Police Officer of the Year in 2001, and she has earned eight commendations, two Meritorious Service medals and two Lifesaving medals.
Accepting her award from the Lido Shores Homeowners Association, Franklin credited her supervisors with allowing her to do her job.
“I appreciate that my supervisors allow me the latitude to apply common sense to my police work and to continue patrolling here on my island,” she said.
Later, at a reception at Café L’Europe, she turned to a group of Lido Shores residents. There she issued a warning, delivered with her signature sense of humor.
“I’ll get you for this,” she said. “Mark my words. Paybacks are hell.”
Cream of the crop
Lido, St. Armands and Bird key residents have many fond memories of Officer Donzia Franklin. But she has also made many memories, and here is one of her favorites:
Franklin once spotted a young couple on the beach in a restricted area that was taped off for birds and turtle nests. Their beach blanket contained an apple pie, whipped cream and a four-pack of Kahlua.
Franklin approached the couple, and the woman tried quickly to cover her chest, which was covered with whipped cream, with her arms, which sent the cream flying everywhere.
“The young college-age fellow (said), ‘We just finished dinner and now we were going to have dessert,’” Franklin told the Longboat Observer. “I asked them to leave the roped-off area before engaging in ‘dessert.’”
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]