Cops put on hard hats to provide housing, discourage crime

Members of the Bradenton Police Department work with volunteers from Habitat for Humanity to build a home on Thursday morning in Bradenton.
Members of the Bradenton Police Department work with volunteers from Habitat for Humanity to build a home on Thursday morning in Bradenton. zwittman@bradenton.com

Committed to bringing down crime in the city, Bradenton police officers and employees put on hard hats and helped build one of the latest Habitat for Humanity homes.

About 25 members of the Bradenton Police Department joined forces with Habitat for Humanity volunteers on Thursday morning to help build a duplex in the 2200 block of 10th Street West.

“This has been an ongoing project, and we went out, picked up our hammers and got to work,” spokesman Lt. Brian Thiers told the Bradenton Herald after work had been completed for the day.

Officers and police personnel helped Habitat volunteers with siding, framing and painting.

“We had a great time,” Thiers said of their work with “a great organization. We worked well together.”

Thiers commended Habitat’s volunteers for the amount of time and effort put into their projects.

“It was a great honor to be able to join with them, to work in our city, the city we keep safe. And today, we got to build a little of it,” Thiers said.

The duplex, which will provide homes for two single mothers and their children, is part of new construction projects that are being built in an area of the city that for years has been a high-crime area.

“It’s part of a concerted effort to rebuild this area,” said Bruce Winter, construction director for Manatee County Habitat for Humanity. “To have the support of the police, fire department and code enforcement here in the city of Bradenton allows us to come into this neighborhood and help to revitalize it.”

The duplex comprises the third and fourth dwellings built in the Midtown Bradenton and Village of the Arts neighborhoods. Previous projects have been built in the village, and future projects have also been planned, according to Winter. One of the homes is part of the organization’s Women’s Build project, for which Police Chief Melanie Bevan is the co-leader.

In addition to the labor Bradenton police officers provided, their mere presence has aided the project. Thursday morning, the block where the duplex is located was lined with police cars, and other officers who were on duty regularly patrolled the area.

The increased patrols, not just during building time, has really aided in controlling vandalism and theft of building materials, which is often a struggle, Winter said.

Bradenton police officers intend on continuing to work with Habitat, Thiers said, and they looking forward to helping other families have a fresh start while helping to clean up the neighborhood.

Jessica De Leon: 941-745-7049, @JDeLeon1012