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Longboat Key Cops Corner: Best of 2022

Some of our weekly features top items from the past year.


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Lets face it, whether you're a cop in the South Bronx or in Longboat Key, there are days you're gonna just stop and smile at the world around you. 

OK, maybe fewer days in the South Bronx than in Longboat Key, but you get what we're saying. 

Those stop-and-smile moments are what we try to capture each week in Cops Corner, a newspaper feature that could easily adopt The Friars' Club mantra of "we kid because we love.''

Hard crime news isn't what we're about at Cops Corner. Making you smile and perhaps tipping our newsprint-folded hat at the men and women who wear a badge is (or are?). 

Anyway, here's some of 2022's best.


There must be some mistake, officer

Bang, bang!

5:13 p.m., Jan. 7, 1900 block of Harbourside Drive

Officers canvassed a neighborhood after a resident’s report of sounds that resembled gunfire. Officers found nothing suspicious and were told by a witness that an antique car backfired several times, adding the owner of the car lives nearby.


Making holes

3:23 p.m., Jan. 31, 700 block of Saint Judes Drive South

Police responded to a work area after a caller advised that a crew taking part in the town’s underground utilities project was drilling on the wrong side of the road. Police asked for a member of the town’s Public Works Department come speak to the caller.


Let’s play: ‘Nude? Or not Nude?’

7:15 p.m., April 24, 4500 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Police hit the beach in search of a man, perhaps in his 70s, walking the beach clothes-free. Upon arrival, the officer reported no first-hand sightings of the soon-to-sunburn man, but in speaking with others on the beach, he learned the man was wearing a thong-style swimsuit referred to by the beachgoers as a “banana hammock.


Meats, cheeses, but no crimes

12:40 p.m., Aug. 16, 2800 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

A resident alerted police to a white tent with food inside that seemed to be the basis for a roadside business of some sort. An officer arrived to find a couple celebrating their wedding engagement with a charcuterie board. 


So long, buddy

8:13 p.m., Aug 19, 2800 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Following up on a call about a dog improperly on the beach, an officer learned the dog had cancer and his owner was bringing him to see the water for the last time. 


Who are you, why are you here?

8:36 p.m., Aug. 30, 4900 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive 

Men with flashlights atop a scaffolding drew the suspicions of a caller concerned about the possibility of a big-time heist in progress. One of the men told the responding officer he was a beekeeper and was assisting in the emergency removal of a beehive. The officer relayed the sweet-as-honey news to the original caller. 


Never mind

7:44 p.m., Sept. 18, 4700 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

While en route to beachfront resort on a report of a missing person, the officer learned the report was actually a missing purse. And it wasn't missing anymore. 


Top o’ the afternoon to ya!

4:39 p.m., Oct. 27, Greer Island beach

A woman who was reported to be topless on the beach told police that, no, she wasn’t actually topless but rather had simply adjusted the upper half of her two-piece swimsuit because of sand infiltration. An officer arrived to find the woman appropriately covered and advised her to return to her car out of sight if future adjustments were needed.


Prime suspect: Bobby Ewing

1:38 a.m., Nov. 3, 2500 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

In a call originally categorized as a more serious incident, an officer was sent to a residence on a report of a home burglary. While the officer was on the way, he was advised the caller ascertained the sound she heard was the result of a dream, not reality. The caller told police she did not wish to make an official crime report and there is no provision for a dream report. The officers investigated and found no sign of forced entry or other crime. 


Settle down, people

Loud? Foul? Grumpy? Old?

3:03 p.m., Feb. 27, 7000 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

A caller who did not wish to meet with an officer reported a group on the beach was playing music annoyingly loud. When an officer reached the beach, he was directed toward a tent containing six people by a man who said the group was not loud, but rather using foul language. The officer noted the music was not loud, but the lyrics could be considered foul. A woman interjected that the group had been neither loud nor foul-mouthed and that the reporting party was a “grumpy old man.’’ 


Phoning it in

10:20 p.m., March 16, 100 block of Sands Point Road

The sound of a yelling man prompted a call to police. Once on the scene, the caller told officers he had heard the raised voice of a man but wasn’t sure from which unit the voice came. While canvassing the area, an officer also heard the sound of a man yelling and knocked on the door of a unit. The man inside said he was arguing with a family member on the phone.


Here in America…

6:01 p.m., May 12, 200 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

The manager of a dining established called police to report a couple who refused to pay for their meal and refused to leave. The officer spoke to a man with an overseas accent who said he and his wife had been displeased with the way they had been treated. The officer explained the tenets of Florida’s defrauding an innkeeper statutes and that they could both be taken to jail. The bill was paid in full a short time later. 


FWF (Frustrated while fishing)

9:47 a.m. July 10, 2600 block of Harbourside Drive

Police came to the aid of a worker who was having a hard time persuading a fisherman to leave the private property of a marina, even though signs were posted reading “No Fishing, Private Property.’’ The fisherman told the officer that he didn’t believe the water belonged to the marina. The officer convinced the fisherman of the error of his opinion, and he raised anchor and departed.


Master of disguise

11:30 p.m., Nov. 18, 200 block of Sands Point Road

Citizen dispute: The manager of a bar called police to report trouble with a patron who refused to produce identification before being served. The manager said staff explained to the patron that no alcohol would be served without ID. The male patron became belligerent and demanded he be served. At that point, the patron was told to leave. Several minutes later, the manager said the patron tried to return to the bar wearing different clothes, but staff told him they were calling 911 as a result. The patron left before an officer could arrive.


Something's suspicious here

Quittin' time nap

12:29 p.m., Jan. 21, 5300 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive 

An employee of a nearby business, napping between buildings in a commercial center, prompted a call to police. When an officer arrived, he learned from the napper that he had just clocked out from his work shift and was snoozing before bicycling home, where he said he planned to continue his slumber. The officer found the man in good mental condition and watched as he pedaled away toward his Manatee County home. 


Depends on the newspaper

5:35 a.m., Feb. 11, 4300 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

An officer was sent to a neighborhood on a complaint from a caller, who did not want to meet. The caller reported being suspicious of a sedan delivering newspapers in his neighborhood. Dispatchers were not able to discern what was suspicious about a sedan delivering newspapers. The officer was not able to find any vehicles answering the callers’ description in the neighborhood.


A lot to unpack, here

1:20 p.m., April 3, New Pass

Police went to Overlook Park on a call about a boat that seemed out of the ordinary that was anchored nearby. An officer encountered an older-looking sailboat and spoke from shore to a man on board. The man said he was there to search with a metal detector for a ring reported lost in the area and that his vessel was fine. He added that if police were to get a subsequent call about an odd noise coming from his vessel, it would likely be his yellow-crested cockatoo, which he then went below and produced for the officer. The man made clear he had the proper navigation lights to remain anchored overnight.


Just resting

8:44 p.m., April 14, 3500 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Police investigated a small car found between some trees across the street from a public beach access. When an officer arrived, he reported seeing the head of a woman pop up from the back seat, then disappear. When the officer approached, the woman said she had been at the beach all day and was resting before driving home. The officer told her the beach access would close at 11 p.m.


Making his way

3:56 a.m., May 25, 5700 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

An officer on patrol stopped to talk to a man he encountered pushing a grocery cart south in the bicycle lane. The man was dressed but also was wrapped in a shower curtain while pushing the cart containing a boat fender, some vegetation and a sign. The man apparently spoke only Creole, which created a language barrier, but officers were able to direct him to the sidewalk for a safer passage along the highway.


The Ultimate Idling Machine

7:08 p.m., July 17, 4800 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

Police responded to a call about an unoccupied German sports sedan, parked with its windows closed, doors locked and engine running. A check by the officer linked the license-plate number to an auto dealership, which was closed. During the course of the investigation, the owner came outside and said he had been moving boxes into a nearby residence, and all was well.


Powered up

10:48 a.m., Oct. 3, 500 block of Bay Isles Road

Following Hurricane Ian, police went to the Public Tennis Center to check out a report of an extension cord connected to a receptacle on town property leading over the fence into an adjacent community. Following the cord back to its end, the officer found a resident who said he was concerned about the refrigeration of his insulin and saw that the tennis center power had been restored. The man immediately unplugged the cord, but regained power shortly thereafter. The man was advised to seek permission first before again seeking to use publicly financed utilities.


Awwww…

1:54 a.m., Oct. 10, 3100 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

An officer moved in to investigate when he saw a vehicle in the wee hours of the morning pull into a public beach access spot after established hours. The officer learned from the man, a Manatee County resident in his early 30s, that he and his girlfriend simply wanted to visit the site of their first date. While cooperative, the man was also checked for wants and warrants through a national crime database (something that surely didn’t happen on that first date at the beach). The two left the beach area without incident.


The animal kingdom

Slippery like a…

11:16 p.m., Feb. 19, 3300 block of Bayou Sound

A police officer responded to a call regarding a snake in a bathroom. When the officer arrived, the caller said the approximately 4-foot long reptile was nowhere to be found. Officers looked around and theorized the animal might have come and gone through a plumbing access area. The resident said a plumber would be called to seal off more slithery visitors. 


That’s not a bird

3:18 p.m., March 4, 1600 block of Harbor Sound Drive

An officer went to the home of a caller who reported what she believed to be a bird trapped in her attic. The officer, too, heard a chirping sound, which he followed into a pantry. In the pantry, the officer found a smoke detector with an expiration date of 2003. Batteries in the device were from 2009. He recommended the chirping electronic device be replaced.


Our beach!

7:35 p.m., May 6, 3700 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

An officer responded to a complaint about an aggressively acting snake on the beach. By the time the officer arrived, a civilian had removed the snake from the sand and released it into the vegetation of the dunes. No injuries were reported — reptilian or otherwise.


Over a barrel

7:33 a.m., Sept. 22, 1200 block of Hillview Street, Sarasota

The town’s marine patrol officer was called to assist Sarasota Police with a report of someone clinging to a barrel in Sarasota Bay. Before the Longboat Key officer could arrive at the scene, it was determined that the barrel/castaway combination was a manatee.


Itsy, bitsy break-in artists

5:28 p.m., Oct. 28, 500 block of Halyard Lane

A resident called police to report ants had infiltrated her home via a faucet. The officer suggested a call to a plumber or a pest control service.


It's a mystery

Paging Harry Houdini

10:23 a.m., March 19, 4000 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

A bathroom door that remained locked for 45 minutes drew concern and a police response to a town park. The responding officer determined the bathroom’s deadbolt lock was engaged from the inside but was unable to learn who might be a keyholder. Fire-rescue was summoned to retrieve a key from a lockbox, and when the door was opened, no one was inside.


To protect and serve

Let there be (automatic) light

8:55 p.m., Feb. 3, 500 Bay Isles Parkway

A driver told a police officer she was having trouble seeing her lane of travel while driving north on Gulf of Mexico Drive. The officer assessed the driver as being in good health and in no need of medical attention. He then checked her vehicle and discovered the headlight switch was in the off position, instead of automatic. With the headlights now activated, the driver was able to proceed home without incident.


Stars and stripes

6:42 p.m., Feb. 8, 6900 block of Bayside Drive

Acting on a report of a discarded American flag in the trash, police found a damaged flag on the ground near the town’s boat ramp. An officer recovered the flag and made contact with a VFW post for proper flag destruction. The flag was booked into evidence and placed in a locker awaiting pick up.


Two-time loser

2:16 p.m., Feb. 9, 5400 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

An out-of-state drivers’ license was turned in to the police department. A civilian department employee was able to find a telephone number for its owner. In arranging for the license’s return at the police department, the owner said he was familiar with the location of the police station because he had picked up his license there last year when he lost it previously.


Lighting him up

2:40 a.m., March 28, 6900 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

An officer on patrol spotted a man riding a bicycle in the dark with no lights. The man told the officer he had lights, but the batteries had died. The officer provided the man with a new set of lights, donated to the department (both red and white) as part of bicycle safety program sponsored by Florida Department of Transportation. The man installed the lights, switched them on and rode off.


No breakage required

2:45 p.m., April 1, 4000 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

The driver of a car in which two dogs, a cell phone and the ignition keys were locked inside asked an officer to break a window to solve the problem. The officer asked if a spare set was available and drove to the woman’s home in the 2500 block of GMD at her request to pick up her husband and the keys. Upon the officer’s and husband’s return to the retail store at which the car was parked, the door was opened and all was well.


Personalized for your citation

7:44 p.m., April 15, 300 block of North Shore Road

Police were alerted to an incident of littering by a person in a vehicle. The responding officer found the fast-food trash also included a receipt with a name and telephone number, which he called. The man who answered said he must have accidentally left the trash. The officer let the man know he would be getting a littering citation by mail at his out of town home address.


Cast away

5:56 p.m., June 26 Sarasota Bay, Marker 25

The town’s marine patrol officer spoke to a group of people he rescued from a pair of paddleboards in the middle of Sarasota Bay. The five people and a dog were taken aboard his vessel and said their catamaran had run aground and they abandoned it as a storm approached, heading initially for Bradenton. With limited visibility, they reversed course and headed for Longboat Key. The officer dropped them off at Bayfront Park and alerted the U.S. Coast Guard and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office to the presence of a grounded sailboat in the bay. No one was hurt.


It came from the sky

10:30 a.m., Aug. 18, 6800 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive

A caller who reported finding a drone on the beach subsequently alerted police that she no longer wanted to meet with an officer and would keep the drone until someone reported it missing. A day later, someone did just that. Once police reconnected with the original caller, a Bradenton woman, officers learned the found property was now at a relative’s home several states away. After some back and forth trying to connect with Longboat police, the relative asked for a make, model and serial number of the found article to compare with the property in her possession. Once convinced all the information matched, the original caller’s out-of-state relative four days later agreed to send the flying machine back to its rightful owner on Longboat Key. By mail.


Can we keep it?

8:15 a.m., Sept. 30, 500 block of Ranger Lane

A resident called police to tell an officer about a boat that drifted loose and arrived near his canal-front dock. The resident said he secured the boat with rope to his dock and used a pump to remove water inside. The resident told police the boat belongs to an owner down the street who is out of town and would maintain the vessel until the owner returns.

 

author

Eric Garwood

Eric Garwood is the managing editor of the Longboat Observer and the Sarasota Observer. Since graduating from University of South Florida in 1984, he's been a reporter and editor at newspapers in Florida and North Carolina.

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