As Lakewood Ranch and other parts of East Manatee continue to grow, residents no longer will have to travel miles west of the interstate if they wish to report a crime or speak to a deputy in person.
East Manatee residents can now visit the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office’s newly opened Lakewood Ranch substation, 14544 Arbor Green Trail, to file reports during business hours. The substation officially opened its doors with a ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday morning.
“We’ve always wanted to build a stronger presence in east county,” Sheriff Rick Wells said. He laughed as he added, “I don’t know if you are aware of this, but the county is growing. There’s a lot of growth going on. We want to make sure we keep up with the growth.”
Several of the sheriff’s office teams, including the Rural Community Policing Unit, school resources officers assigned to schools in the east side of the county and patrol deputies assigned to local zones, will work out of the new substation.
A deputy assigned to the Telephone Reporting Unit also will be based at the substation.
“We will have a stronger presence, and that’s really the main goal here is to continue to provide the quality of service we want to provide here in east county and throughout Manatee County,” Wells said. “So, we will continue to build. This is only the beginning.“
Looking to the future, the sheriff’s office hopes to create a fourth district that would include Lakewood Ranch. Likely a few years out, the sheriff’s office will look to create a larger office for that district when the time comes to keep up with the demands of growth.
The substation was made possible thanks to a partnership between the sheriff’s office, developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch and builder Lennar Homes. The substation building is a former Lennar Homes sales center.
“The result is great. It took a lot to get here,” said Rex Jensen, Schroeder-Manatee Ranch’s chief executive officer and president. “Sheriff Wells, I’m hoping you’re going to be happy with the facility because the intent is to give you something that works for you and the residents of Lakewood Ranch and the greater of this county area.”
Demolition of the sales center was about 40 percent complete when the decision was made, Terry Kirchner, with Lennar Homes’ land management team, explained during Friday’s ceremony.
“Our participation is just a small way that we can give back to our community,” Kirchner said.