Chief Hunter and I thought it was important to take a moment or so and rectify any misconceptions created by a recent letter to the editor in the Marco Eagle entitled “Why is Marco Island Wasting Money.”
At Chief Hunter’s direction, I have drafted this response to address the various themes.
The author begins his letter noting the lack of voluntary compliance with traffic laws on the island. Overall I think Islanders and visitors do an admirable job of obeying Florida’s laws, but there is always room for improvement. Law enforcement is a difficult profession for a number of reasons including the fact there is always a wide diversity of opinion on nearly every aspect of law enforcement. The author clearly is advocating for increased voluntary compliance by his fellow citizens as well as enhanced enforcement by the police department.
It probably does not surprise anyone that there are others who feel that the police department is too aggressive in terms of traffic enforcement. In the last 12 months the Marco Island Police Department stopped nearly 5,500 motorists for various traffic violations. As previously indicated there will be those who think 15 traffic stops a day is too many, too little or just right. Please be assured traffic safety is a primary mission of the Marco Island Police Department. As reminder state statute dictates what portion of traffic fines return to Marco Island, it is a very small percentage.
The author’s second point is that citizens of Marco Island should not have to pay for the police officers who are stationed at the Farmer’s Market. Off-duty and auxiliary officers were suggested – we agree! The police officers who are assigned to the Farmer’s Market are always off-duty officers, reserve or auxiliary officers. One hundred percent of the costs associated with those officers are borne by the vendors at the market. The Farmer’s Market officers do not reduce the standard compliment of police officers routinely on patrol in the neighborhoods, commercial districts, schools, parks, beaches and waterways.
The author is quite correct that the Farmer’s Market detail was well thought out. This weekly event attracts thousands of individuals and our roadway infrastructure is tested during the event. Officers are in the area to direct traffic, assist pedestrians and motorists and provide a crime prevention function. As an upstanding citizen the thought that crime may be absent at a large scale community event like the market is logical, however criminals prey on this perception plying their trade in the form of theft from vehicles for example.
If you would like to discuss reserve and auxiliary opportunities, Farmer’s Market deployments, traffic enforcement or any other law enforcement related matters, please feel free to contact Chief Hunter or myself at 389-5050.
David S. Baer
Marco Island Police Department