About 200 pounds of fireworks confiscated from Anna Maria Island on 4th of July, few arrests

kirby@bradenton.comJuly 7, 2014 

ANNA MARIA ISLAND -- Anna Maria Island saw low arrest counts for the July 4th weekend, but a lot of confiscated fireworks, parking tickets and litter.

Holmes Beach Police Department Chief William Tokajer said his agency collected a couple hundred pounds of fireworks over the weekend, though they made no arrests for illegally setting them off.

"We didn't make any arrests on the fireworks because we were trying to confiscate what we could and move on to the next problem, instead of getting bogged down with an actual arrest," Tokajer said.

Alcohol was a similar story. Tokajer said the six alcohol violations his officers did issue were all to underage violators. He said police tend to make arrests with younger violators because they are more likely to drive drunk. Tokajer said he hopes the arrest will have an impact on their behavior. Though they saw older people drinking as well, Tokajer said officers didn't arrest any of them, and said officers didn't see any rowdy drunken behavior.

The Holmes Beach Police Department had four officers dedicated to the beach with three beach vehicles. Tokajer said he thinks they had more control over it this year than in 2013.

Some of the rental places advertise that people can set off fireworks on the beach, the chief said.

"I'll be talking to rental agents over this next year, to tell them it's illegal," Tokajer said. "And if they're advertising that then to please

stop. We do want people to come, but we don't want the unsafe fireworks."

Parking violations throughout the Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach area totaled 121 for the weekend.

At Bradenton Beach, Chief Sam Speciale said though they had the same sort of issues with alcohol and fireworks, the crowd was mostly low key.

"When our guys would tell them to stop, they would," Speciale said.

Tokajer said litter was another huge problem, and that they picked up hundreds of pounds of trash the morning after the holiday. He also said they confiscated fireworks mostly from visitors, not locals.

"People say, 'Oh it's an American tradition, we're just celebrating America,'" Tokajer said. "And I say yes, by setting off illegal fireworks that were made in China."

Deputy Chief Scott Tyler of the Palmetto Police Department said they had no arrests associated with the Palmetto Fourth of July celebration and only two arrests for unrelated DUIs and two open container citations over the holiday weekend.

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