Law enforcement urges a safe New Year's Eve

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SARASOTA, Fla. - Suncoast law enforcement agencies are urging residents to celebrate the new year safely.

The Bradenton Police Department strongly encourages citizens to not discharge firearms this New Year’s Eve.  “We want to remind our citizens that it's a crime to discharge a firearm, and such action can also cause serious bodily injury, or death to an innocent bystander," says Deputy Police Chief Warren Merriman.

They urge you to call authorities if you hear gunfire.  "If you hear gunfire within the City of Bradenton, even if you do not where it came from, we ask that you contact the Police Department, because other residents may know who committed the criminal act."

If part of your holiday celebrations include consuming alcoholic beverages, the Sarasota Police Department urges you to plan ahead by avoiding driving while impaired. They recommend using a designated driver, taking a taxi, or taking advantage of the free ‘Tow to Go’ service offered through AAA.

The Sarasota Police Department will be out in force and there will be no tolerance for the dangerous act of driving while intoxicated.

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office has these tips for those heading out to celebrations:

  • Park in well-lit areas for your safety.
  • Have a pre-planned meeting place in case you are separated from your group.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid groups of people who appear to be loitering in parking lots.
  • Make sure valuable items are not left in plain sight in a vehicle.
  • Have a cell phone available to call for help if needed.

Parents who plan to bring children to a crowded event should place a school identification card in their pocket with the child’s name, address and contact telephone numbers. Instruct the child to go to the nearest law enforcement officer if they become separated from the parent, or dial 911 (if the child has a cell phone).