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Policing Longboat in the wake of crime

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Detective Bob Bourque with his wife, Linda, at the promotion ceremony Tuesday where he was named Lieutenant.

While the double homicides at Zota Beach Resort last month placed Longboat Key policing in the limelight, Police Chief Pete Cumming has quietly been working to expand the department and its capabilities.

The first step manifested last Sunday when Detective Bob Bourque was officially promoted to Lieutenant. That move is significant since Bourque constitutes the entire investigative arm of the 20-officer Police Department.

Bourque has years of experience as a detective, came on board the Longboat Key Police force in 2010 and has since undergone even more extensive training.

“He is tenacious and is a top investigator. He is a pursuit addict,” said Cumming.

This move is strategic and goes beyond simply rewarding and acknowledging Bourque’s achievements which have been numerous. Bourque played a lead role in identifying and investigating the perpetrator charged in the Zota murders.

But if Cumming is successful in his goal, soon Bourque will lead a department that will add another detective to the police force.

“Bourque is a one-man show; I would like two. He is busier than I would like him to be,” said Cumming.

Cumming spoke about how Bourque is involved in state-wide task forces that have dealt with everything from boat motor thefts that have occurred on Longboat Key, to jewelry thefts, as well as a dozen active cases at this very moment.

Cumming told Longboat Key News that in a perfect world he would like to have one more patrol officer on duty during nights as well as the additional investigator.

Right now, Longboat has a minimum of two officers on duty and Cumming says that three is far more ideal, and four during the night is the “the perfect situation.”

For Bourque, what drives him is an inner competitiveness to not let criminals win by getting away with their activity.

“It’s the challenge – the constant challenge that comes whether it’s a burglary case or the Zota homicides – I suppose I like to put bad guys in jail,” said Bourque.

Bourque continued in saying that most crimes on Longboat Key are repeat crimes, because they are predominantly crimes of opportunity involving burglary and theft.

Bourque says he spends a tremendous amount of time to follow up on criminal behavior because he says most all of the crime occurs from workers and people who come to Longboat Key and have access to residents’ homes and property.

“We have no crime essentially from our residents; all of our burglaries and thefts come from people across the bridge in Manatee and Sarasota County. Our residents are often hiring construction workers and landscapers which can bring in a wide variety of people, some good and some not. Those that are not, see all of these empty houses and property and it is like a gold mine,” said Bourque.

Bourque says that having an additional detective will help in the effort to follow up on these type of crimes which if left uninvestigated, and if the cases are closed, have a way of reoccurring. Instead, Bourque’s approach is to make it clear that Longboat Key has an extremely low tolerance for theft and crime of opportunity.

Part of what Cumming and Bourque are also concerned with is the simple fact that the population of the Sarasota and Bradenton region is growing rapidly, bringing an ever-increasing amount of criminal activity to the mainland, which by proxy, emanates to Longboat Key.

“We have to be realistic that the smaller cities we have are becoming big cities and we have to be prepared for when something terrible happens. We live in a safe town and if we continue to improve the department in small and incremental ways, we’ll be able to keep residents and their property safe. When the Chief says we need something, we need to pay attention. I’ve been on the force going on eight years, and the Chief has never asked for more people; I think what he is asking for is realistic and makes sense,” said Bourque.

Cumming said that he will work with the Town Manager in seeking in the near future the additional personnel and the necessary budget adjustments.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m., Bourque had his promotion officially recognized in a ceremony at the Police Department.

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