By Tim O’Meilia
Hooligans in England used Facebook, Twitter and other social media as an almost instantaneous call to riot in London, Birmingham and other British cities.
Manalapan Police Chief Clay Walker hopes electronic communication will have the opposite effect in policing the Boynton Inlet.
Police made half a dozen arrests for underage drinking on the north side of the inlet in the past month and Walker figures word may spread as fast as a tweet can be read.
“Social media is very, very important,” Walker said. “As soon as an arrest is made, they’re on their smartphones and tweeting.”
Walker’s message is that the cove off Bird Island on the north side of the inlet is not the place to break the law.
Complaints by Manalapan residents north of the inlet about noisy parties, trespassing and vandalism have prompted Walker to consult with other law enforcement agencies — the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Ocean Ridge and Lantana police and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission — in mapping a strategy to police Ocean Beach Park, which is bounded by Manalapan on the north and Ocean Ridge on the south.
The park has become attractive to partiers since $8 million in improvements to the jetties, Bird Island and the sand transfer station were completed earlier this year.
“We’ve met with a lot of agencies in this area to see what their enforcement needs are and how we can cooperate,” Walker said.
Manalapan has a written agreement with the Sheriff’s Office allowing Manalapan to patrol the north side of the inlet. In addition, it has mutual aid agreements with Ocean Ridge and Lantana. Lantana has a patrol boat, which other smaller coastal towns lack.
“It’s difficult to justify a boat for one small community,” Walker said. He’s offered personnel instead, an officer to help Lantana’s marine patrol.
Manalapan is teaming with wildlife officers to enforce fishing license and catch limits. Town police and sheriff’s deputies are also enforcing open container laws and the prohibition of dogs on the public beach.
“We’ve made ourselves available for mutual aid although we haven’t had any incidents in our jurisdiction,” said Ocean Ridge Police Chief Chris Yannuzzi.
The town’s boundaries extend into the south end of the park but not as far north as the inlet. The town owns an all-terrain vehicle that is useful on the beach, if needed.
Of the underage drinking arrests, Walker said, “Maybe we’re solving a problem not only on the beaches but also in the community.” Ú