Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Off-duty sheriffs will begin patrolling Lakewood Ranch

By Nick Williams nwilliams@bradenton.com

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Ryan Heise, Lakewood Ranch Director of Operations, said Tuesday off-duty Manatee County Sheriffs will begin patrolling Lakewood Ranch this week.

For months, district supervisors have sought to implement a contract with the sheriff’s office to pay off-duty deputies for additional traffic control but county officials told the districts the traffic signs in the communities had to be brought up to federal standards first. With $4,000 spent on new signs by the districts, a county inspector informed Heise last week the upgraded signs met approval.

The county inspector toured the communities on March 23.

The problem with previous signs stems from changes to the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. District 2, which consists of Country Club North and Edgewater, spent $3,000 and District 5 (Country Club South) spent $1,000. Signs that don’t meet state standards could be a problem if drivers getting tickets contest them in court.

Board members are also hoping the off-duty officers will monitor golf cart drivers. Supervisors have expressed concerns of underage youths driving golf carts in the area. Florida law states a golf cart may not be operated on public roads or streets by any person under the age of 14, but supervisors have described witnessing drivers under 14 operating the carts.

The supervisors feel it is a safety issue and discussed possibly raising the age limit within the district.

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