INDIAN SHORES – As part of the observance of National Police Week, May 15 was declared “Peace Officers Memorial Day” at the May 8 town hall meeting.

The town is recognizing National Police Week “to honor the service and sacrifice of those law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty while protecting our communities and safeguarding our democracy,” according to the proclamation.

The proclamation said Mayor Patrick Soranno and the town of Indian Shores “publicly salute the service of law enforcement officers in our community and in communities across the nation.”

Statistics regarding the more than 900,000 law enforcement officers currently serving in communities all across the country are noteworthy. The first recorded death of a police officer in the United States took place in 1791. More than 20,000 have been killed in the line of duty since then. Last year, 129 officers were killed in action.

A candlelight vigil was held May 13 by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, and on May 15, “Peace Officers” Memorial Day, flags were expected to be flown at half-staff to honor the fallen officers and their families.

Following approval of the proclamation, Chief Terry Hughes presented Scott M. Martin for approval as a full time officer in the Patrol Division. The town council unanimously approved the hiring of Martin pending his pre-employment physical and drug test screening results. Martin was hired to replace Officer Robert Auch, who recently resigned, leaving the department short staffed.

Martin is a retired Pinellas Park police officer “with a stellar record,” said Hughes. Additionally, Martin worked with the Lake Alfred Police Department and was well recommended there. Martin has a master’s degree in criminal justice and “is highly trained and educated,” said Hughes.  

Donations of two “out of service” taser protective suits from the Pinellas Park Police Department were accepted by the town council. Pinellas Park police officers recently received new taser protective suits, making the old ones obsolete. Sgt. Michael Griffiths and Officer James Franco of the Pinellas Park Police Department provided necessary taser training to Indian Shores officers. Hughes expressed his gratitude to Pinellas Park Chief Michael Haworth, Griffiths, and Franco for their generosity.

A request by T.F. Smoak for the return of one of the carbine rifles he previously donated to the Indian Shores Police Department on Jan. 30 was granted. The department has adequate rifles for the officers, so there was no hardship in returning the carbine to Mr. Smoak.

HVAC purchase from Tampa Bay Trane approved

The purchase of HVAC controls and a replacement rooftop air conditioner unit from Tampa Bay Trane on the U.S. Communities Governmental Contract was unanimously approved. The cost of replacing the cooler unit is $35,946, the cost of purchasing building controls is $43,398, and annual maintenance is $7,224 for a three-year term. The total cost will be $101,016.

Tampa Bay Trane is offering an interest-free payment plan which will run $2,806 per month ($33,672 per year) “with other equipment to be replaced as it fails,” said Bonnie Dhonau, the town’s administrator. Dhonau said she also anticipated savings of 10 percent or $5,000-$6,000 per year in efficiency.

MOA with state Emergency Management approved

The Town Council unanimously approved a Memorandum of Agreement with the Florida Division of Emergency Management that allows for mutual cooperation in the event of an emergency such as a hurricane. Resources from the town may be utilized by the state in the reciprocal agreement, including services such as evacuation and debris recovery. A new element in the agreement permits residents to sign up to receive emergency text messages.

Dhonau explained that when it looked as though Hurricane Irma was going to directly hit the beaches, she had already put in for additional help from the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “Fortunately, we didn’t need it this time,” said Dhonau.