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Cops Corner
Longboat Key Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019 3 months ago

Best of Longboat Key Cops Corner: 2019

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Here are some Cops Corner items that made us look twice.
by: Eric Garwood Managing Editor

It might have been a young Officer Elvis Presley of the Memphis Police Department who first said to his squad-car partner, “We can’t go on together (two, three, four) with suspicious minds." Clearly that impressionable rookie law enforcement agent (who really needed a haircut, right?) never worked a shift on Longboat Key. 

While Cops Corner in 2019 did feature its share of both life-and-death emergencies, scratch-your-head-level oddities and enough pups and liquor on the beach to replicate a boozy, sandy Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, one of the key themes running through the year was Longboaters’ abilities to spot something out of the ordinary (dare we say suspicious?) and raise the issue to police. More often than not, the result was innocuous. But police always advise erring on the side of caution, and we would never argue with that.

Here, then, is a look at the best Cops Corner had to offer in 2019, culled from enough words to form the first half of a decent crime novel.

Jan. 9

Hello? Hello?

7:26 p.m., 4300 block of Exeter Drive

Welfare check: A woman called police concerned for the safety and well-being of her husband at home. She reported calling him repeatedly with no answer. An officer sent to the home spoke with the man, who eventually found his phone in the sofa, with several missed calls noted on the screen. He told the officer he would call his wife, and the officer also made such a call to say her husband was fine.

Jan. 13

No license, ever

12:02 a.m., 6700 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Traffic: Following his a traffic stop for excessive speed, the officer learned the driver did not have a drivers’ license, had never been issued one in his home country of Guatemala and only could produce a government-issued ID card from the Central American nation. All other documentation was in order. The man was issued a criminal citation for driving without a license and told he was required to appear in court. The driver called a family member to drive.

Jan. 21

It’s me

12:58 a.m., 5100 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Suspicious vehicle: An officer dispatched to a report of a suspicious vehicle at a construction site reported the vehicle in question was actually his own. He had backed into the property with his parking lights on to check on the site.

Jan. 22

Time passes

2:58 p.m., 4200 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Missing item: A man who first noticed his $8,500 watch missing in April 2018 called police to make a report to begin an insurance claim. The said he searched his belongings once he returned home last year but was unable to find the watch. He said he did not report it missing immediately because he was hoping it would turn up somewhere at his Longboat home. It didn’t.

Jan. 31

Deal or no deal?

1:30 p.m., 500 block of Bay Isles Road

Suspicious circumstance: A woman called police after buying electronic equipment from a pair of men who approached her at a bank ATM. She told an officer the men, one of whom had a neck tattoo, offered to sell her a surround-sound system for $300 and assured her it was not stolen -- and produced paperwork to that effect. They said it was left over from a job they had recently finished. She paid the $300 and they placed the box in her car. When she arrived home, she called police to report the transaction. An officer checked the system, which appeared new, and confirmed its serial number was not in a database of stolen goods. A check around the area of the ATM yielded no sign of the men or their tan Ford Explorer.

Feb. 2

Our condolences

12:19 a.m., 4000 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Traffic: The town’s automated traffic monitoring system alerted officers to a car owned by a driver with a suspended drivers’ license. The driver of the car relayed to the officer during a traffic stop that the owner was her father, and he had recently died. The officer offered condolences and closed out the stop.

Feb. 6

Dinner or breakfast?

3:32 a.m., 3800 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Suspicious vehicle: Police stopped to investigate why a convertible was parked along Gulf of Mexico Drive and soon encountered a couple approaching from the beach. They said it was their car and they had stopped to eat some food along the shore. The officer said they couldn’t park there and the beaches were closed. They apologized and left.

Feb. 9

The lassez-faire approach

10:49 a.m., 700 block of Penfield Street

Animal call: A resident called police to report a snake in their mailbox. Manatee County Animal Control was alerted but did not respond, so a Longboat Police officer arrived to help. The officer found a small snake in the mailbox, and the resident asked the officer to leave the door open to let the snake leave on its own instead of removing it by hand.

Feb. 11

Game over

12:52 p.m., 500 Bay Isles Road

Suspicious circumstance: Police cautiously responded to a report of a plastic cylinder tied to a tree near Town Hall. Once found, it appeared to be an orange medication vial, wrapped in gray paper. A town employee said it was likely part of a geocache game, in which participants find hidden objects with GPS coordinates. Participants then log their find in a notebook inside the vial. An officer recovered the vial, which held a pen, a notebook, various coupons and some cards from game participants.

Feb. 16

Dogs alone

4:02 p.m., 7100 block of Firehouse Road

Animal: An officer was flagged down and informed that two dogs were left alone in a car nearby. The officer found the car, with the engine running and air conditioning on, with two large dogs inside. The officer reached his hand inside and found the air cooler than the outdoor air, and the dogs did not appear distressed. Using information gleaned from the license plate, the officer made a public-address system announcement from his patrol car to the nearby beach. When the vehicle owner presented himself, he was warned about leaving a vehicle running while unattended.

Feb 24

You cannot be serious

4:59 p.m., 4000 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Disturbance: Police were called concerning an argument over time on a tennis court. After the officer discussed the matter with the involved people, a compromise was reached.

March 4

That’s a penalty stroke

10:28 a.m., 3000 Harbourside Drive

Traffic: A man who said he thought his car was in park learned otherwise after it rolled in a pond near the Harbourside golf course. The responding officer reported arriving to find a car submerged up to its trunk. A tow company recovered the car, but a stretch of turf was damaged while the car was pulled from the water.

Wanted for questioning: Mother Nature

12:39 p.m., 5600 Gulf of Mexico Drive

Property damage: A caller reported a case of criminal mischief to his neighbor’s beach chair. The caller said the chair looked fine the previous day but later appeared broken. The officer who examined the chair reported finding broken hinges that appeared to be rusted through.

 

March 8

No shoes, no crime

7:37 a.m., 600 block of St. Judes Street

Suspicious person: Police were called about a second-hand report concerning a suspicious person seen taking off their shoes near a canal. No other description was given. Following a one-minute response time, an officer arrived and reported finding no one with shoes, without shoes or taking off their shoes.

March 23

Pick one: Dog, beer, attitude

3:30 p.m., 100 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Animal infraction: A police officer on patrol in a park reported seeing a man with an unleashed dog and an open can of Bud Light, both violations of town regulations. The man told the officer he didn’t care about the infractions and he was just waiting for high tide to begin fishing. The officer reported overhearing the man say into his phone “I only had a six pack with me.” He was ordered to appear in Sarasota County Court.

March 27

Here it is

6:18 p.m., 1900 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Suspicious circumstance: A resident called police with suspicions someone unknown was using her computer tablet without her knowledge. She suspected it had been stolen. Activating software designed to find wayward digital hardware, the tablet was found inside her home.

April 4

Home from the (dog) hospital

10:42 p.m., 2400 block of Harbourside Drive

Public service: Police received a call for assistance from residents who had just brought their dog home from surgery to find their building’s elevator was out of order. The responding police officer carried the dog up five floors to the residents’ home.

April 20

The direct approach

5:25 p.m., 800 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Animal call: Unsure about the legalities of handling a turtle and unsuccessful at redirecting the animal from the island’s main road, a caller sought help from police. The caller said he had tried to maneuver the turtle out of the travel lanes, but it kept returning to danger. The officer assigned to the call picked up the turtle, walked it over to a nearby golf course pond and released it.

April 21

Sit . . . stay . . . leave

1:59 p.m., 100 block of North Shore Road

Dog on the beach: A man with a dog was approached by officers who explained that only bonafide service animals are allowed on the beach. The dog owner couldn’t produce documentation or an explanation of how the dog qualified as a trained service animal. In fact, the dog lunged at officers and passers-by and didn’t obey the owner’s commands to sit. The owner described his dog, a pit bull, as more of a comfort dog. Officers told him comfort dogs aren’t allowed on the beach.

May 6


Southbound and Swedish

2:23 p.m., 5500 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Traffic: A pair of golf carts, driving southbound on Gulf of Mexico Drive, were pulled over. The people riding in the carts said they were tourists from Sweden, they were staying in a community north of Longboat Key. The said they thought it was OK to drive the vehicles on the road. They were issued a verbal warning and headed back to the north.

May 11

Current events

1:37 p.m., Off the Key

Public service: The department’s marine patrol officer was hailed by radio in connection with a pair of men trying to swim from Jewfish Key to Longboat Key, a distance of at least 300 yards. The officer found the men and pulled them aboard his boat, safely delivering them to the Longboat Key side. The told the officer they were on vacation and didn’t realize it was that far against a current. They assured the officer they wouldn’t try that again.

May 29

Show me the way to go home

5:10 p.m., Longboat Pass bridge

Suspicious person: Police were called to the area of the Longboat Pass bridge on a report of a pair of men who might be intoxicated. An officer found the men walking on the bridge, one of whom was helping his friend, who had been drinking. They were on their way to a store in Bradenton Beach to meet a ride home. The officer transported them to the store.

June 1

Too slow

10:15 a.m., 5000 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Traffic: A driver was issued a verbal warning for driving too slow (27 mph) on Gulf of Mexico Drive. The man behind the wheel said he was showing his girlfriend homes along the road. The officer suggesting pulling off the road, while not blocking the bike lane, to allow traffic behind to flow through.

 

June 9

Uplifting experience

3:45 a.m., 6800 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Animal rescue: Police responded to a call of a dog stuck under a bed. The officer arrived and lifted the bed high enough for the owner to coax the dog to safety. The dog was unhurt. 

June 12

Purrs like a kitten

12:56 p.m., 3800 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Animal rescue: A town resident called police to report three kittens in the engine compartment of his car. The man told police he had just driven in from Florida’s east coast and discovered them there, though it’s unclear if they were local cats or cats from the Atlantic coast. The kittens were safe and given to Sarasota Animal Services.

July 7

A little help

11:26 p.m. 3200 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Public service: An out of town visitor called police seeking help in finding a way to the airport. An officer assisted the visitor by calling for a cab, and stayed with him until the cab arrived.

July 8

See ya later, alligator

9:13 a.m., 4900 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Animal call: The maintenance team of a condominium community called police to report what they thought was the sound of alligators in a storm drain. Police who responded to the call reported the sound was more likely frogs. Manatee County animal control was notified.

July 12

Phone fun

8:05 a.m., 500 block of Wedge Lane

Emergency message: A call from a child on the 911 emergency line prompted a welfare check. The dispatch operator spoke to the child who said his mother was fine but wouldn’t put her on the phone. Once an officer arrived to investigate, he determined all was well. The child was playing with an old, deactivated cell phone that retained the ability to connect with 911.

July 13

A sprinkling of suspicion

3:58 p.m., 4600 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Suspicious person: Police met with a man at a resort who was concerned about a shirtless man he had seen sitting in the bushes at the corner of the property. An officer spotted a man walking away from that area, and the man said he was an employee of the resort who was working with two other men on the sprinkler system. There were no other people seen in the area.

Safe to enter

7:52 p.m., 700 block of Bayport Way

Public service: A resident was concerned about a wasp nest above the front door and called police. An officer arrived and used a can of wasp spray the resident had on hand. The nest appeared empty. The resident entered safely.

July 14

Who’s there?

11:47 a.m., 4700 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Suspicious circumstance: The manager of a resort called police seeking special attention regarding the possibility of someone hiding or sleeping behind a shed on the property. The manager said employees had been finding pizza boxes, trash and other evidence. An officer sent to investigate reported most of the trash had been cleared by employees, but an odor remained. The officer said police would keep an eye on the area to see if anyone returns to the spot.

July 16

Alarming sound

4:44 a.m., 500 block of Gunwale Lane

Suspicious circumstance: Police went to a home regarding a suspicious noise coming from a bathroom. The officer was taken to source of the noise in the master bathroom. The officer flushed the toilet, and the noise stopped.

 

July 23

One fish, two fish, redfish, dead fish

12:31 p.m., 500 block of Hibiscus Way

Suspicious circumstance: A resident called police to say the U.S. Postal Service advised him there was a dead redfish in his mailbox. The resident had been away and said he suspected a nearby work crew of leaving the fish.

Aug. 24

Uplifting police work

5:01 p.m., 1000 block of Longboat Club Road

Animal call: A caller to police was concerned about an osprey seemingly trapped on a ninth-floor balcony. An officer and the unit keyholder arrived to find a large bird on the balcony alongside a half-eaten dead fish. The officer surmised the bird might have dropped the fish in flight, landed to reclaim it and couldn’t take off steeply enough to clear the balcony’s walls. The officer assisted the bird above the balcony walls and it flew away on its own.

Aug. 25

The circle of life

2:30 p.m., 100 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Animal call: A caller sought help from police for an injured snook, found in the water near the shore. An officer arrived and explained that wildlife rescuers typically respond to calls about seabirds, manatees, dolphins, turtles and similar creatures. Not fish. The caller asked what, then, could be done. The officer responded the best thing is to let nature run its course with the four-foot long gamefish. As the caller released the fish, the officer reported, it was obviously no longer living. The caller walked back to the shoreline.

Sept. 24

Good tidings

10:42 a .m., 600 block of Halyard Lane

Suspicious person: Police were called about a man seen for more than an hour sitting in the bushes near a stump at the end of a neighborhood street, ultimately leaving behind a plastic water bottle. Police spoke to a man answering the provided description and learned he was part of a dock-construction crew next door. The crew had to take a break when the tide rose beyond a point at which they could work. The man was sitting in the bushes to get out of the sun. The man and the work-crew supervisor were told not to venture on to other people's property.

Oct. 23

Picture not-so-perfect

11:20 a.m., at police headquarters

Suspicious circumstances: An out-of-town woman came to the police station to report the second incident in four days in which she saw a man photographing her in public. The most recent incident had taken place earlier that day, while she was shopping on Longboat Key. She told police an older man in a white car seemed to be taking photos of her with his smartphone while in the shopping center parking lot. She said she had a similar experience at a Sarasota outdoor event in which a different man was photographing her. The officer took note of the man’s description in the Longboat Key incident, but told the woman photographing people in public was not against the law. She said she understood this but wanted to file a report with authorities in case it happens again.

Oct. 31

No picnic

9:04 a.m., 100 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Public service: Police were called to Overlook Park to look into a report of a large wooden table in the adjacent water. The officer arrived to find a picnic table floating in the water. With assistance of a boater, the officer was able to get a rope tied to the table and haul it close to shore. It was tied to a boardwalk rail and the town’s Public Works Department was notified.

Nov. 13

4:17 p.m., Greer Island

Public assist: An officer called to Greer Island found about a dozen people on the beach east of the Longboat Pass bridge. They said they had rented a boat from a Cortez business earlier in the day, and the owner had taken the vessel back, stranding them. The police department’s marine patrol officer gave two of the people a ride back to Cortez to pick up their vehicles and return for the others on Greer Island. They said they would contact the rental owner to learn why the boat was taken from them.

Dec. 3

Throwing side dishes

10:14 a.m., police headquarters

Suspicious circumstance: A man came to the police department to tell officers about an odd experience the previous day while on the road. The person said he was stopped in southbound traffic and waiting to turn left from Gulf of Mexico Drive when the driver of a truck pulling a wood chipper, also heading south, hurled red beans on the windshield of his car. He said no damage was done, and the beans were washed off. The man said he did nothing to provoke the hurling of beans and that he simply wanted to file a police report. There was no information on the identity of the truck driver.

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