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Sarasota Thu Jul 23, 2009 5 years ago

Storeowners display police support

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by: Robin Roy City Editor

Yellow signs are popping up all over Main Street. They’re an indication that the police union’s push to garner support from the community is working.

The signs read “We support Sarasota police” and “A message to City Manager Robert Bartolotta, ‘Stop hurting our police.’”

In the past two weeks, the signs have appeared in 20 store windows from Orange Avenue to Gulfstream Avenue.

“Our police force is the same as it was in 1987,” said Kathy Blankenship, co-owner of Friend’s Jewelers.
“With our city growing and growing, that’s not a good thing.”

Police union members began asking merchants July 1 to place the signs in their windows to show support for the police. They’ve visited Main Street, Central Avenue and the area near Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

They plan to canvass merchants for another two weeks.

Several business owners said they got the impression that more police officers were losing their jobs.

“They said jobs were being cut,” said April Richardson, manager of The Gourmet Market. “You want there to be enough police. How are they supposed to protect us?”

The city has cut 29 vacant and retiring police positions in the past two years, but Bartolotta’s proposed 2010 budget contains no cuts to the police department.

There are currently 176 sworn in officers in the Sarasota Police Department.
“I don’t think cutting back on officers is a good place to cut,” said Beth Ealing, owner of Max’s Dog Bakery.

Storeowners, such as Beth Ealing, of Max’s Dog Bakery, say they just want to make sure there are enough officers to keep Sarasota safe.

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