The Coastal Star

Briny Breezes: Poll numbers favor Boynton for police protection


By Margie Plunkett


A majority of residents favor rehiring the Boynton Beach Police Department to patrol and protect Briny Breezes, according to a survey conducted by the town
as aldermen prepare to choose between Boynton Beach and the Ocean Ridge Police
Department in May.


Of the 190 people who responded to the poll to help determine which city will patrol when the current contract expires Sept. 30, 118 voted for Boynton Beach
and 72 for Ocean Ridge. The survey was sent to 488 residents.


The survey included a letter that laid out the terms of the two competing police contracts. At least one resident protested the process at Briny Breeze’s town
meeting April 22. “The information supplied leading to the poll was so totally
slanted toward Boynton Beach. I’m not sure you got a fair poll,” Don Faron
said.


The Boynton Beach police contract would cost $220,000 a year, compared to $185,000 for Ocean Ridge, but the two departments offered differing levels of service,
according to the survey.


The difference in prices would equal $2.22 per each share in the Briny Breezes corporation. Briny Breezes shareholders would pay on average $71 more for Boynton Beach police than Ocean Ridge, the document said.


Boynton Beach police’s proposal includes an eight-hour shift each day dedicated to Briny Breezes. It would cover Briny as part of a routinely patrolled zone on
the barrier island when not on the dedicated shift, plus provide a marine
patrol.


Ocean Ridge would provide a minimum of six patrols each day.


Both departments provide coverage 365 days a year, it said.


The cost per hour would be about $71 for Ocean Ridge and $37 for Boynton Beach, the letter said. It added that the Boynton Beach Police Department has 170 members,
compared with Ocean Ridge’s 18-person force, pointing out, however, that
Boynton also covers a much larger area than Ocean Ridge.


Faron told the council that it would have gotten a fairer comparison had it put the contract out for a formal bid.


Some audience members, including Faron, said paying $35,000 more was difficult for residents and particularly affected residents who don’t live in Briny Breezes
year round. Yet others countered that the added protection the Boynton Beach
contract offered was worth the price.


Resident Rita Taylor offered a third option that had been mentioned previously: Combine private security patrols with municipal or county police responders for
emergency calls.


“We’ve had Cadillac service all these years,” Taylor said. “What I’ve suggested is far from Cadillac — but it’s an option.”


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