Sheriff’s Office reports 10% drop in incidents on Siesta Key during its Spring Break Operation this year

Big jump reported in number of traffic citations issued

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office’s Spring Break Operation on Siesta Key saw a 10% decline in incidents, compared to the total for 2022, the agency has reported.

From March 1 through April 19 of this year — the height of tourism on the barrier island, given the number of high school and college students on their spring breaks — the Sheriff’s Office handled 923 incidents, the data showed. For the same period of 2022, the total was 1,020, the report said. The latter figure was up 9% from the 2021 figure of 934, the report added.

Altogether, Sheriff’s Office personnel made 42 arrests this year, compared to 46 in 2022, the report continued. Officers also issued 501 traffic citations, which marked a jump of approximately 61% from the 2022 total of 311, the report showed.

The tally of parking citations rose about 5% year-over-year — from 717 in 2022 to 753 this year.

However, the biggest jump in enforcement actions came in terms of the traffic warnings issued, the report pointed out. The total in 2022 was 213; this year, it was 999, almost a fivefold increase.

During his May 4 presentation to members of the Siesta Key Association, Sgt. Daniel Smith, leader of the Sheriff’s Office Substation on the island, began his remarks by asking, “Happy that spring break’s over?” Several people responded, “Yeah!”

“All the kids are gone,” Smith added. “They’re not just walking all over the place anymore.”

Among other details, the report said that the total number of crimes dropped 40%, from the 2022 period to the 2023 spring break weeks. Further, calls for service fell by 19% from spring break in 2022 to spring break in 2023.

Additionally, a chart showed, the fifth and sixth weeks of the spring break operation were the busiest. Week 5 ran from March 26 through April 1, with Week 6 starting on April 2 and going through April 8. Those two weeks together accounted for 31% of all crimes for the 2023 spring break period, the report pointed out.

Week 3, when the Sarasota County School District observed its spring break, was the third busiest, the report said, noting that that week has been “consistently busy throughout the years.” Week 3 saw 14% of all the spring break crimes occur this year, the report said.

However, the report continued, Week 7 saw the highest percentage of calls for service from the Sheriff’s Office: 11% of the total. That week — from April 9 through April 15 — also had the biggest tally of crimes against persons and property during the 2023 Spring Break Operation period: 12.

The quietest week for Sheriff’s Office personnel was the very first one, which began on March 1 and ended on March 4, the report said. Only 75 calls for service were logged. For the last week — April 23 through April 29 — the calls for service added up to 81.

Altogether, the calls for service totaled 1,039, the report noted. The number of crimes against persons and property was 55, which represented only 5% of all the calls, the report said.

In 2022, Sheriff’s Office personnel dealt with 91 crimes against persons and property during the spring break period; that number represented 7% of the calls for service.

Further, during the Spring Break Operation in 2022, the report pointed out, the busiest week for calls for service was March 13-19, when the Sarasota County School District spring break was underway. Officers fielded 190 calls for service that week, the report added; the figure represented 15% of the total, which was 1,282.

Sarasota County Commissioner Mark Smith, who is a long-time Siesta Key resident, obtained the data from the Sheriff’s Office to disseminate to interested groups. The Siesta Key Condominium Council distributed the report in a May 15 email blast to its members. The organization has about 90 member associations, which represent approximately 7,000 condominium owners, its leaders have pointed out.