By Dan Moffett
Ocean Ridge officially doesn’t take over policing in Briny Breezes until Oct. 1, but already there are signs of change.
Chief Hal Hutchins told the Briny Breezes Town Council on Aug. 22 that residents would see his officers and Ocean Ridge patrol cars on their streets well before the takeover date.
Hutchins said the early presence isn’t about trying to push out the Boynton Beach Police Department, which has served the town for the last three years. He said he wants to ensure that all his officers — some of whom are new to South Palm Beach County — are familiar with Briny’s layout and understand what the town expects from them.
“Ocean Ridge began orientation of officers because we want to have a smooth transition,” Hutchins told the council. “When you see them, stop and say hello.”
Hutchins also introduced the officer assigned to lead the community policing efforts in Briny. She is Debra Boyle, who came to Ocean Ridge in 2017.
The council unanimously approved the police contract with Ocean Ridge. The agreement includes stipulations that the department will try to improve communications with Briny’s corporate board.
Alderman Bill Birch told Hutchins it’s important that he attends board meetings as well as council meetings. The chief said he intends to provide daily activity reports to the corporate office as well as to town officials.
In other business:
• The council has scheduled a special meeting for Sept. 12. Beginning at 3 p.m., council members hope to hear from representatives of C.A.P. Government of Coral Gables, the company that handles the town’s permitting and code inspection work.
Town Manager Dale Sugerman and Deputy Clerk Maya Coffield have told the council of recurring errors and omissions in the paperwork C.A.P. submits, causing frustration and delays for contractors and homeowners trying to get projects done.
“They don’t seem to have improved,” Sugerman said of the problems, “and they have not gotten worse. They’ve stayed as bad as they were all along.”
Briny’s contract with C.A.P. expires Sept. 30, and the council must decide whether to renew it.
• Immediately after discussing C.A.P., council members plan to look at ways to streamline the permitting process. Alderwoman Kathy Gross has proposed changing procedures to involve the corporate office earlier.
• At 5:01 p.m. on Sept. 12, the council is expected to give preliminary approval to the 2019-2020 budget. Final approval would come at the regular meeting on Sept. 26.