BRADENTON -- The Bradenton Police Department announced Monday it is forming "The Chain" -- a new business-watch group to more closely link 2,000 city businesses to each other and the BPD.
Being a link in The Chain involves a business owner reporting crime to the police and then contacting neighboring businesses to let them know what happened, too.
Bradenton Officer Kimberly Camacho will coordinate The Chain after she came up with the idea to try it here.
"It's an idea that's been around a long time but we've never tried it in Bradenton," Camacho said. "I'm absolutely very excited about it because I believe it will open the lines of communication to our businesses and the businesses to each other."
Camacho said the concept is a variation on the Neighborhood Watch program, but there will not be multiple meetings nor time taken away from doing business.
"We don't really know our neighbors any more," she said, "and if there are issues we should be able tell them about it."
The BPD promises to keep businesses in The Chain up-to-date on crime trends and provide training for owners and their employees.
Ideally, this comprehensive BPD program will involve merchants and retailers in all areas of the city.
"By reporting to the police when you see something or someone suspicious, you witness a crime, or your business is the victim of a crime, you are sending a strong message to criminals that you are no longer going to put up with unlawful behavior," said Deputy Chief Warren Merriman in a press release. "By contacting your neighbor they can be aware and be on the lookout for the criminal as well."
An 18-year law enforcement veteran serving the BPD since Jan. 7, Camacho ran a community outreach police explorer program in Palmetto before coming to the BPD.
She said the introduction of The Chain is not driven by any increase in business-related crime.
"We're trying to link our police department to our businesses so we have better communications and better protect our citizens," she said. "There's no more business crime than what's been happening in the past."
The BPD will present The Chain concept and take questions at a 7 p.m. public meeting July 29 in the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium.
"When this program is active, the criminals learn that not only will one business not put up with their criminal behavior, none of the businesses in the plaza, business center or street will put up with it," Merriman said in the release. "They also learn the busi
nesses are all linked together and linked to the police department. The criminals will proceed to easier targets."
Participation in The Chain is free, and it could enhance business revenues, Camacho said.
"These actions equate into dollars and cents. The business will reduce its losses in retail and internal thefts," Camacho said.
"Customers feel safe, so they patronize businesses longer and more frequently, which equals earnings and savings."
Terry O'Connor, Herald night metro editor, can be reached at 941-745-7040 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.