Blacktip Island’s police constable hopes his request to keep empty beer bottles in cars will reduce the number of empties littering the island’s roadways. (photo courtesy of Santeri Viimanäki)
A public plea from Blacktip Island’s police constable asking motorists to refrain from throwing empty beer bottles out their car windows brought angry responses from many residents of the small Caribbean island Thursday.
“Community leaders were unhappy about all the discarded bottles along Blacktip’s roads,” Marquette said. “Tourists were mentioning it on the internet, so the Chamber of Commerce asked me to step in. It’s a simple request at this point.
Some residents complained the constable’s plea sent the wrong message.
“This is the police giving the green light to anyone who wants to drive under the influence,” resident Bill Fischer said. “Like Blacktip drivers need any encouragement. Rafe just threw gas on a bonfire.”
Marquette defended his request.
“Sure, I’d love to crack down on drinking and driving, but you have to be realistic,” he said. “This is Blacktip. I can’t arrest the entire island. Keep your car out of the pond and don’t run into anything or anyone, and there’s wiggle room.”
Other residents say the plea is too shortsighted.
“Where do beer cans fall in all this?” Jessie Catahoula said. “Why just bottles? A ban on all litter on the roads would accomplish a lot more. And how does Rafe know he can’t arrest everyone on the island if he hasn’t tried?”
Blacktip motorists bristled at the constable’s request.
“Rafe’s got no right telling us what to keep in our cars,” Antonio Fletcher said. “You don’t throw the empties out, they clatter around and drown out the music.
“And besides, bottles along the road makes driving safer,” Fletcher said. “Headlights hit those bottles, it makes a glow, like runway lights. Keeps you out of the ditches. Mostly.”
Island officials, however, praised the plan.
“This makes the island more idyllic for visitors,” Blacktip Island mayor Jack Cobia said. “Safety comes later. We’re taking baby steps here.
“And keeping bottles in cars does enhance safety. It keeps people from being hit by them,” Cobia said. “Last Saturday Dermott chucked a bottle that broke on my head. Later he said it was a mistake, but he sure did laugh at the time.”
Marquette stressed the program is voluntary.
“Folks need to work with me on this,” he said. “If the problem persists, the next step will be issuing littering citations. After that, we may have send for more constables from the big island, and they won’t be so understanding of Blacktip ways. It’ll rain DWIs.”