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Bradenton Police Department moving 14th Street substation into new digs

BRADENTON — The Bradenton Police Department will be moving its Safe Street unit down the block to larger facilities.

The Downtown Development Authority board voted Thursday to pay for the renovation of a building it owns at 1404 14th St. W. to accommodate the street crime unit, along with the police department’s District 2 operations.

“This will provide a nice mix of resources for the police department in one location,” said Deputy Chief Jeffrey Lewis, spokesman for the department.

Although District 2 stretches from 14th Street West to Perico Island, Lewis said being in the business corridor the DDA has targeted for rehabilitation gives the neighborhood the continued police presence it needs.

“There’s been progress on 14th Street,” he said, “but work still needs to be done.”

As part of its Tamiami Tomorrow revitalization plan, DDA has been purchasing property along the corridor to amass parcels large enough to entice investors.

The agency purchased the building where the police department facility will move from First Step of Sarasota, which under a sublease was used as a center for homeless assistance, along with the former Our Daily Bread soup kitchen next door.

The Community Coalition on Homelessness’ Open Door program and the Our Daily Bread operations moved to the One Stop Center on 17th Avenue West in March.

Mike Kennedy, executive director of the DDA, said there was discussion with Police Chief Michael Radzilowski about using the building until the site is used for redevelopment.

Radzilowski said he would be interested, but his department budget had no extra funds available for the project.

The DDA’s program administrator, Karen Kyser, worked with the police department, staff from various city departments, and local contractors and vendors to develop a cost estimate for the facility.

It was estimated to cost $10,100 in one-time expenses for such things as furniture, rewiring, painting and signs.

Plus there would be the monthly operational cost for utilities of $1,200 or $14,400 a year.

Kennedy said he recommended the DDA spend the $25,500 total from its contingency funds, “Because it will enhance community policing efforts along the Trail and in the 14th Street (Community Redevelopment Agency) district and will ensure utilization of the building.”

The DDA already budgets $4,500 a year for the current police substation in the 1800 block of 14th Street West, which will be closed when operations are moved to the new site.

District 2 commander Capt. Russell Tibbitts told the DDA board that having the street crime unit substation on 14th Street West has proved successful.

“The number of crimes have declined,” Tibbitts said, “because of the community policing concept.”

Lewis said police commanders, supervisors and officers are committed to community policing.

“Officers are permanently assigned to specific geographical areas of the city,” he said. “With that, the officer learns the landscape of the neighborhood.

“They know the residents, the business owners, and if something is out of place they would know,” Lewis said.

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