Collier sheriff's sergeant plays key role in annual Keewaydin cleanup

William DeShazer/Staff
Meghan Fitzgerald, 7, left, of Naples, gets her hair tied back by her mother, Mindy, while collecting trash with others during the 4th Annual Keewaydin Cleanup on Saturday Sep. 8, 2012.

Photo by WILLIAM DESHAZER // Buy this photo

William DeShazer/Staff Meghan Fitzgerald, 7, left, of Naples, gets her hair tied back by her mother, Mindy, while collecting trash with others during the 4th Annual Keewaydin Cleanup on Saturday Sep. 8, 2012.

— For one day a year, Sgt. Dave Bruening moonlights as a trash collector.

As he has for four years, on Saturday the deputy with the Collier County Sheriff's Office marine unit led about two dozen volunteers on a clean-up of Keewaydin Island's coastline, gathering litter, washed up crab traps, and the occasional stray beach chair from the sand.

"Pretty much all the other beaches have some sort of steward that takes care of them," said Bruening, who got the support of the Sheriff's Office to start the annual project in 2009.

While the south end of the barrier island, which stretches from south Naples to Marco Island, sees some occasional volunteer cleaning, he wanted to see more of the northern end get gussied up once a year.

"It gets used quite a bit even though it's not accessible by road," Bruening said of the 8-mile-long island, which is open to the public but only reachable by water.

Team OCEAN, a volunteer program that organizes clean-ups at the south end of the island, pitched in to pick up the heaps of trash after Saturday's four-hour event.

Bruening originally scheduled two clean-up events this year; however, the first was postponed due to then-Tropical Storm Isaac two weeks ago.

"A lot of people have the wrong idea about law enforcement. We're here for more than taking people to jail and writing tickets," Bruening said. "It's not the traditional thing you see law enforcement doing, but I think it's needed."

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