The Longboat Key Police Department is keeping a close eye on Beer Can Island for the rest of the summer, after a flurry of ordinance-breaking activity has swept the popular boater destination spot.
Drinking on the beach and bringing unleashed dogs on the beach at Beer Can Island are not allowed.
To enforce those two town ordinances, Longboat Key Police Chief Al Hogle is requiring that two to four police officers patrol the island every Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day weekend.
The first weekend of crime detail on Beer Can Island was held Aug. 7 to Aug. 8 and resulted in 20 crime reports and/or warnings being issued.
Hogle said that no single incident led to his decision for the extra patrol on the island.
“There is no real giant event that took place this year,” Hogle said. “But every year, around August, we have to get extra patrol to the island because dogs begin running loose and alcohol is everywhere.”
But two recent police department incident reports show that extra patrol could be beneficial.
On July 27, police found a man with a knife and a machete walking near Whitney Beach Plaza. The man, who admitted he had been living on Beer Can Island, attempted to charge a police officer to take back his machete.
And on July 31, a crowd of Beer Can Island beachgoers became rowdy after a drunk man began to taunt an officer after he and others were told to stop jumping off Longboat Pass Bridge.
Police officers called for the police boat, and the man was arrested after he started to incite the crowd and taunt the officer.
That incident, Hogle said, shows how the inability to access Beer Can Island in a timely manner has led to more problems this summer.
Erosion at the North Shore Road beach access makes it virtually impossible to access the island by foot, especially at high tide.
In the meantime, the police department and the fire-rescue department continue to think of ways to make the island more accessible.
A fire-engine ladder was dropped down to the island three weeks ago to retrieve someone who needed medical assistance.
“But we need a better and safer way,” said Hogle, who said it’s possible to walk to the island through mangroves if needed.
Hogle said his department has not made any arrests since the crime watch began Aug. 7.
“It’s not our intention to make any arrests,” Hogle said. “We would rather educate, but we will do what’s necessary with repeat offenders.”
And, as in years past, Hogle said he expects the incidents on Beer Can Island to taper off after Labor Day.
“Once the kids go back to school, things quiet down,” Hogle said.
Beer Can Island incident reports
The following police reports were written after four officers patrolled the island Saturday, Aug. 7 and Sunday, Aug. 8.
• 11:25 a.m. — A man was told to drink his alcoholic beverage on his boat and to take his dog with him.
• 11:50 a.m. — A woman was told not to drink alcohol on the beach.
• 1:42 p.m. — A man was warned not to drink alcohol on the beach.
• 2:06 p.m. — A man was told he couldn’t drink beer on the beach.
• 2:07 p.m. — A man was told not to drink beer on the beach.
• 2:09 p.m. — A man was told he couldn’t drink a cup of beer on the beach.
• 2:54 p.m. — A man was told to put his dog back on his boat.
• 3:26 p.m. — A woman was told she couldn’t have her dog on the beach, even though it was smaller than most dogs.
• 3:36 p.m. — A man was told to drink his beer on his boat.
• 3:47 p.m. — A man was told to get on his boat if he wanted to continue drinking his beverage.
• 3:55 p.m. — A woman was issued a written warning for drinking on the beach because she didn’t listen to the verbal warning.
• 4:19 p.m. — A man was reprimanded for allowing his dog on the island.
• 4:43 p.m. — Police inspected several boats and performed safety checks.
• 4:45 p.m. — A man was warned for drinking on the island.
• 4:47 p.m. — A man was issued a written warning for drinking on the beach.
• 4:51 p.m. — A woman was reprimanded for walking her dog on the beach.
• 12:47 p.m. — A man was told not to drink beer on the beach.
• 3:11 p.m. — A man was issued a warning for drinking on the beach.
• 3:13 p.m. — A woman was warned to get back on her boat with her alcoholic beverages.
• 3:17 p.m. — A man agreed to put his dog back on his boat.
Contact Kurt Schultheis email@example.com.