Vagrant and merchant fall through window; police to use counselors

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Robert Kay knew running a downtown business would be hard--but he didn't think it was dangerous.

"I has a gentleman walk past who took a swing at me, we got in a little struggle and both of us went through the plate glass window of my shop," Kay said.

Police arrested Robert Robinson and charged him with aggravated battery.

They've arrested him several times in the past--and this is one of the reasons police are re-instituting a 'homeless outreach team'

"The City has supported a social service coordinating position, he's a licensed clinician going out with the officers to take as a bridge between the officers and the social services sector," said Captain Patrick Robinson.

Kay likes the idea.

"A longer care mental care is in order for some, that may be a better long-term solution. Having a social worker with the police department might facilitate that," he said.

But it's no immediate fix--in fact, police announced another incident Tuesday morning that won't exactly encourage downtown shopping.

"We had a gentleman exposing himself to a business," Capt. Robinson said.

Captain Robinson is optimistic the situation will get better--and as for Robert Kay, though he's still recovering from his injuries, he also feels the increased police presence is going to help.

"I'm optimistic at this point,"  he said.

Police hope that optimism continues as they try using a licensed clinician on vagrants. City and County commissioners will next address this issue in a joint meeting on June 23rd.