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Sarasota PD increasing patrols for annual pineapple drop

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SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - "The way the crowd is gathered here in the middle of town, it's pretty exciting," said Sarasota resident Tom Pocorobba, who attends the pineapple drop every year.

Pocorobba and his wife moved to the Suncoast from New York 18 years ago.

He calls the scene at downtown Sarasota's annual pineapple drop a mini New York City on New Year's Eve.

"New York is great but it's too cold this time of year. This is the next best place to be," smiled Pocorobba.

The extremely cold temperatures are not expected to deter nearly 1,000,000 people from filling Times Square Sunday night. Oolice are only expecting about 25,000 people in downtown Sarasota, but explained every sworn officer with SPD will be on patrol downtown.

"The officers here are trained, we're ready, and we're prepared, we have an ops plan," said Captain Lori Jaress. "We want everybody to come out and have a good time."

Recent terror attacks in New York City and Las Vegas are fresh on the minds of Sarasota police officers. Capt. Jaress said the department took those events into account when creating its security plan for New Year's Eve.

"We are going to be using the big barricades. We're going to be using public works trucks at different intersections. People should feel very safe being on the streets that are blocked off. Nobody is getting through there in a vehicle," explained Capt. Jaress.

Sarasota police will have officers in and out of uniform, and believe they are thinking a step ahead, preparing for the worst case scenario.

"We can't predict what's going to happen but I can assure you we are trying to think of everything we can as a police department to keep everybody safe," assured Capt. Jaress.

Police recommend leaving valuables at home, or conceal them inside your car. That's one step in the Griffitts family's plan as they get ready for Sarasota's annual tradition.

"Make sure you know where your belongings are and in a safe place. Make sure you stay where it's lit and where people are. Don't travel by yourself in the dark," said Jamie Griffitts, who plans to attend the pineapple drop with her husband and son.

The all day festival begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday, December 31, 2017. The event is free.