Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mounted patrol to target people cruising for sex in wooded Clearwater park

CLEARWATER — The City Council voted 4-1 Thursday to create the city's first mounted police unit to patrol against sexual cruising in Lake Chautauqua Park.

The city will spend up to $19,000 in forfeiture funds to create the unit with leased horses Rudy, Smokey and Garnet.

Police Chief Tony Holloway said the unit, which will be led by reserve Officer Nancy Miller and volunteer Officer Deborah Storey, was a cheap way for police to watch the thickets of the east Clearwater park.

One resident complained in May that his 10-year-old son was approached twice by men in the park. A recent undercover patrol arrested three men accused of trolling for casual sex.

The money would pay for start-up costs, trailer mileage, training and patrol-related veterinary care, Holloway said. Much of the money could be returned after three years if the horses are uninjured.

Mayor Frank Hibbard was the lone dissenting vote, saying all-terrain vehicles would serve the park's patrol better because "they won't get injured, and they can get into the same places horses can."

It's been one year since the city pushed the closing time for bars in the city to 3 a.m., a move that stirred fears over the iniquities of a later last call.

As it turns out: Not much changed.

Within a quarter-mile radius of each of the city's 100 bars, in the moonlit hour between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m., there has been a year-over-year increase of 11 fights. Eight of them were bar-related.

"There are really no issues there," Holloway said Thursday during a review for the City Council. "We should leave it the way it is."

The council agreed, though Hibbard repeated a common refrain from last year.

"We really don't think anything good happens between 2 and 3," he said.

• • •

Clearwater will pay the Homeless Emergency Project $50,000 to help cover utility bills at the city's largest shelter.

The organization's president, Barbara Green, said it has been a tough year for HEP, with falling grants and donations leaving a $200,000 deficit. Utilities for its housing programs, including a 340-bed emergency shelter, cost about $345,000 a year.

The City Council voted unanimously Thursday to grant Green's request for at least one year, with the option, if needed, of repeating it annually.

HEP has taken in more than 30 residents from the Clearwater Homeless Intervention Project, a downtown facility that closed in May due to a lack of funding.

It also took over management of CHIP's eight transitional apartments last month.

"I know you're good stewards of money," Hibbard said. "I like betting on winners."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or

Mounted patrol to target people cruising for sex in wooded Clearwater park 08/05/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 5, 2011 7:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bar review: Sample whiskey, vodka, rum, absinthe and more at Fish Hawk Spirits in Ybor

    Bars & Spirits

    While craft brewing has firmly entrenched itself in local drinking culture, craft distilling is still a very niche market. Part of this is due to outdated and arguably unfair distilling laws, and part of it is because successful distilling can often be a lot tougher and more time-consuming than brewing up a few batches …

    For $10, you can sample four of Fish Hawk Spirits’ fruit-infused vodkas, as well as its molasses-based rums, tangerine brandy and more. Old whiskey barrels lend a rustic vibe to the Ybor shop.
  2. Pinellas deputy in trouble for social media boast: 'Nothing like almost shooting someone'

    Public Safety

    LARGO — A Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy is under investigation after a photo that shows him boasting about almost shooting someone made the rounds on social media.

    A Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy is under investigation after a photo that shows him boasting about almost shooting someone made the rounds on social media. Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Spencer Gross on Thursday confirmed deputy Austen Callus' employment and said the agency is "aware of the social media post." [Facebook'
  3. ReliaQuest's benevolent hackers try to make companies more secure


    TAMPA — Their goal is to get in. Past a security desk, through a firewall, into a system they shouldn't have access to. Sometimes they'll look like a regular person in the lobby who innocently forgot their access badge. Most times they won't be seen at all, remotely and quietly prodding a company's systems from a …

    Angelo Castellano of Tampa works at his desk at ReliaQuest | | [CHARLIE KAIJO, Times]
  4. Watch the trailer for 'Mini Lights,' based on St. Petersburg's frightening urban legend


    Perhaps you've heard of the "mini lights." The tales can vary a bit, but generally, they're said to be nasty little creatures controlled by a witch that once lived near Booker Creek. They come out after dark to "get you."

    A scene from the proof of concept trailer for a mini lights movie.
  5. Democratic ad: Adam Putnam is 'silent' on GOP health bill


    Democrats are trying to attach Adam Putnam to the GOP’s unpopular plans to replace Obamacare.