Friendlier policing hits the streets of Anna Maria

jdeleon@bradenton.comJuly 7, 2013 

ANNA MARIA -- Under the supervision of a new leader, the Manatee County Sheriff's Anna Maria Unit is taking a friendly approach at policing the streets lined with beach homes and vacation rentals.

Sgt. Paul Davis became the head of the city's policing unit in January and has quickly gained a reputation for getting the job done with a positive attitude.

"We are a team, this isn't something I just did," Davis said. "These guys have bought into the community-oriented policing and we work as a team."

Since taking the lead position on the unit of seven, Davis said some of the concerns residents have expressed to him and his unit are the amount of trash from the fireworks on the beach as well as the noise associated with them as with people partying.

Recently the unit put up a sign reminding residents and visitors of some rules and regulations regarding alcohol, pets, grills and fireworks.

"We wanted to make sure the Fourth of July was a safe and peaceful day for everyone," Davis said. "It seemed, for the most part, to work."

Education is also key to the community-oriented policing.

"Every once in a while they need to be reminded what the rules are," Davis said. "We are hoping for voluntary compliance, the more we can educate people the better."

Drinking on the beach has also been an issue the community has expressed concerns over.

"As far as alcohol, for the most part the biggest thing we are looking for are large parties that are bringing cases of beer and bottles of liquor," Davis said. "Someone coming out with their sandwich and beer, that is not what the public is concerned about."

The deputies have begun to use bicycles and ATV's a lot more these days.

"They are easier to get around and much more friendly to talk," Davis said. "It's been very helpful to be more friendly with the community."

Anna Maria Commissioner Dale Woodland says he has gotten positive feedback from the community.

"He seems to have a very good feel for the community and their concerns, and he is addressing them in a very positive way," Woodland said. "He's been really been encouraging to people to get them involved."

Davis and the unit are also trying to be more proactive without having to be

so aggressive and issuing citations.

"Most people are just here to have a good time and don't know they are causing a problem," Woodland said. "When it's brought to their attention they will simply quiet down or take care of the problem."

Woodland says he makes people understand the rules, and he does it in a very positive way. "I know the residents are very happy with his attitude and responsiveness," Woodland said.

Local business owners are also pleased with changes. "Their presence seems stronger," Rebecca Preston said. "It feels like you can relax."

Preston, owner of the Fish Emporium, likes that the unit members are personable. "I also like their personality," Preston said. "They stop in and say hello."

Preston also feels like the new policing methods are much more effective.

For the Anna Maria Unit, Davis says the motto is "to be firm, fair and consistent."

"They are the best beaches in the world as far as we are concerned," Davis said. "We just want to make sure that the people coming out are having fun, being safe and respecting the citizen and the other visitors."

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