The Coastal Star

Briny Breezes: Boynton and Ocean Ridge compete to police Briny Breezes

By Dan Moffett

            Neighborly relations between Ocean Ridge and Boynton Beach have frayed in recent months, mostly because of the city’s support for high-density residential projects on Federal Highway.

            Now the two municipalities have found something else to dispute: Who will protect and serve the good citizens of Briny Breezes?

            Ocean Ridge thought it had a three-year contract to provide police services to Briny ready for the town’s approval on Thursday, Aug. 18, believing it was basically a rubber-stamp blessing of the existing arrangement.

            But then a funny thing happened on the way to the council meeting. Boynton Beach showed up in Briny Breezes with a counterproposal with a price tag that was 10 percent lower than Ocean Ridge’s. And the offer came with a familiar deliveryman — Chris Yannuzzi.

            Now a captain with the Boynton Beach Police Department, Yannuzzi started 2015 as Ocean Ridge’s police chief and Briny’s town marshal and then was forced to resign after a dustup with Ocean Ridge Commissioner Richard Lucibella.

            If Briny signs a contract with Boynton Beach, Yannuzzi would return as the “point of contact” for the town and its marshal, Boynton Assistant Police Chief Vanessa Snow told Briny’s council members.

            “I’m in a very unique position,” Yannuzzi said.

            Snow and Yannuzzi presented Boynton as the bigger and better-equipped alternative for Briny, with a full-time force of 155 sworn officers, compared with Ocean Ridge’s 16. Boynton is a fully accredited agency, they told the council. Ocean Ridge is still working on accreditation. Boynton’s three-year proposal would cost Briny $200,000 annually, compared with Ocean Ridge’s offer of just over $221,000.

            Briny Town Attorney John Skrandel said he believed Boynton’s lower cost was derived from “economies of scale” that a larger agency could leverage.

            “Every single person had a smile on their face,” Snow said, when Boynton officers learned about the possibility of policing Briny.

            Ocean Ridge has covered the town for most of the last three decades, except for a three-year window from 2007 to 2010 when Boynton Beach had the contract. Briny officials were unsatisfied with Boynton’s performance then, however, and went back to Ocean Ridge.

            But Yannuzzi and Snow say their department has undergone a “cultural transformation” in recent years under the leadership of Police Chief Jeffrey Katz. Yannuzzi told the council Boynton has embraced “community policing that is much more citizen-focused” and upgraded its personnel.

            “I’m unbelievably impressed with the quality of the officers that came on board,” Yannuzzi said.

            Ocean Ridge Police Chief Hal Hutchins countered that his department is based entirely on the barrier island and doesn’t have to contend with response time issues such as trains and drawbridges. Hutchins said there is a close link between Ocean Ridge and Briny Breezes, and that his officers think of it as policing a single town.

            “We provide more than six patrols a day,” Hutchins said. “We’re part of this community. … We consider Briny Breezes a continuation of Ocean Ridge.”

            Hutchins said he didn’t have the authority to renegotiate the contract price — that was up to elected officials. He said Ocean Ridge Mayor Geoff Pugh and Town Manager Jamie Titcomb had wanted to attend Briny’s August meeting but couldn’t make it because they were out of town.

            Several Briny aldermen have privately complained about the rising costs of doing business with Ocean Ridge. Councilman Bobby Jurovaty said he encouraged Boynton Beach to come up with its counterproposal and give the town a competitive choice.

            Briny Council President Sue Thaler said the town will make that choice during a Sept. 8 special budget meeting that begins at 5:01 p.m. The new contract will take effect on Oct. 1.



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Comment by Tony on January 4, 2017 at 6:50am

Yannuzzi is a Good Man...... I believe Boynton Beach did not renew  his contract in Code Enforcement because the whole department threatened to quite if he stayed...  Just like Ocean Ridge.... 

Comment by Dave Schiffour on August 20, 2016 at 8:52pm
So......let me get this straight.....all of a sudden, BBPD has an overwhelming interest again in patrolling little ol' Briny Breezes? And the man who is spearheading the effort is none other than former ORPD police chief Chris Yannuzzi? I'm gonna call BS on this one. This sounds like nothing more to me than the former Chief wanting to pull an okie doke and spite his old department just to get under their skin. It's unfortunate also that some members of Briny's council feel that they are being swindled by Ocean Ridge. In full disclosure, I was an Ocean Ridge Officer (and Briny Breezes Deputy Marshal) from 1991 to 1997. I know we always were committed to providing Briny Breezes with the highest level of service possible. Chief Hillery wouldn't have had it any other way. And I'm sure that service commitment didn't change under Yannuzzi or now Chief Hutchins. I would urge the citizens of Briny Breezes to give this proposal serious thought. You contracted with BBPD before and you were unhappy with their service. Captain Yannuzzi rides in with the 21K discount and wants you to believe that you're going to receive the personalized service equivalent to what Ocean Ridge offers? Sorry, but no matter how large they are and how many awards and accreditations they have, I will never believe that to be the case.

Yannuzzi knew full well what the Town of Ocean Ridge was charging for the annual contract, and by slithering in at 21 thousand dollars cheaper, he's hoping you'll take the bait. I'm not sure of the current population of Briny Breezes now, but using the low estimate of 450 residents, that's about 47 dollars cheaper a year. Is 47 dollars worth it? Relying on a police agency for service that may have to contend with railroad and drawbridge issues? No thank you.
Comment by Terry Kline on August 19, 2016 at 1:47pm

 Chris Yannuzzi is a man of his word and an all-around nice guy. If  Boynton can afford to save us a few bucks, why not? With the upcoming presidential elections, we prove that we can withstand ANYTHING for 4-years!

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