Officers Manning and Allgood were working at the Galvez Boat Ramp, checking daily catches as individuals returned from fishing. One individual pulled his vessel to the dock and started to tie off. Officer Allgood approached the individual and spoke to him. When the individual noticed Officer Allgood, he sped off. Officer Allgood ordered the individual several times to stop, but he did not. Officers Allgood and Manning then checked vehicles with boat trailers in the area until they found one with an empty trailer that matched the vessel description. They called the registered owner who was a relative of the suspect. The relative agreed to call the suspect and convinced him to return to the boat ramp. The suspect returned, was arrested, and transported to the Escambia County Jail for interference with an FWC officer.
While on patrol, Officer McHenry observed a vehicle swerving back and forth hitting the curbing on the roadway. He stopped the vehicle and spoke to the driver. While speaking to the subject, Officer McHenry observed several clues that indicated he was intoxicated. Officer McHenry requested the driver perform field sobriety tasks. The subject started the task but then refused to continue. Officer McHenry arrested and transported the subject to the Escambia County Jail for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). At the jail, the subject provided a breath sample, and results were .335 G/210L, which is four times the legal limit.
Environmental Investigator Nelson received information that a company had been storing construction and demolition debris unlawfully on their property. Contact was made with the owner and together with Investigator Nelson a site inspection was conducted. The owner advised when enough debris is collected it’s then taken for disposal at a permitted facility. The owner was informed this activity is not authorized. The owner was issued a written warning for the unlawful storage of solid waste at an unpermitted solid waste facility.
Environmental Investigator Nelson observed a subject bulldozing a house in Walton County. Information was gathered that the construction and demolition debris from the house had been disposed of improperly. The subject had been hired to demolish the house and properly dispose of the debris. The debris was located on a piece of property owned by the subject and it had been illegally burned. The subject was issued written warnings for the unlawful open burning of solid waste and storage of solid waste at an unpermitted solid waste facility.
Officer Forehand saw a truck pull into a wooded area loaded with a large amount of trash. A few minutes later, he saw the truck exit the area with the bed now empty. Officer Forehand stopped the truck, backtracked where the driver had driven into the wooded area, and found where the trash had been dumped. The suspect was charged with dumping an amount exceeding 15 pounds.
Officer Corbin conducted state fisheries inspections at Cinco Bayou Boat Ramp (Seaway) and Norriego Point Beach-Destin Harbor. At the Cinco Bayou Boat Ramp, Officer Corbin observed a vessel returning to the dock at approximately 1:00 am. An inspection revealed that the boat operator was in possession of a grossly undersized red drum. At Norriego Point Beach, Officer Corbin observed an individual fishing off a local dock. When he approached the dock, the individual was no longer there. There was a female at the dock who turned out to be the girlfriend of the missing fisherman. The fisherman was later located. He was hiding in the bushes from the officer because he did not have a valid saltwater fishing license. The individual was found to be in possession of a grossly undersized red drum. Both individuals were issued citations.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Leonard attended the Deer Point Dam Kids Fishing Rodeo. Approximately 128 children participated in the fishing rodeo. Officer Leonard provided a short question-and-answer session during the safety briefing. He also interacted with the participants during the rodeo.
Officers Clark and McHenry represented FWC at the Big Lagoon State Park Annual Earth Day event. Various community vendors participated in the event, demonstrating support for environmental protection. Throughout the day, more than 100 visitors attended the event, raising awareness about environmental issues and transforming public attitude.
Officers Molnar and Bartlett participated in an outreach event called “Construction Junction” presented by the Community Police Officers of Fort Walton Beach. This is a community event where kids interact with construction equipment, military, and law enforcement vehicles and personnel in a safe environment.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
A Resource Protection Officer was conducting resource patrol at Talbot Island State Park when he heard a vehicle alarm in an adjacent parking lot and noticed a man jump into a dark Tahoe and begin to flee the scene. The officer jumped into his truck and headed to engage the vehicle and noted a parked truck with a trailer and the passenger door open as he passed. The fleeing vehicle headed south on A1A toward Jacksonville. After several miles, the officer caught up with the Tahoe and conducted a traffic stop. The tag on the Tahoe was not assigned to that vehicle and the driver had a suspended driver’s license. Other officers arrived to assist and property stolen from the parked truck was found in the Tahoe along with other contraband. Both occupants of the Tahoe had prior arrests and convictions for burglary and dealing in stolen property. One of the occupants also had a domestic injunction that she was violating. Both subjects were arrested on the scene and booked into jail with felony charges being filed. The property stolen from the parked truck was returned to the owners.
While on patrol within Twin Rivers State Forest, Officer Ransom observed two individuals arrive in a vehicle at a popular fishing site. The two individuals fished for some time and later returned to their vehicle. Officer Ransom stopped the individuals and conducted a resource inspection. Neither of them held a freshwater fishing license, identification card or driver license. Using their names and dates of birth, the two were identified and the driver held an active warrant for failure to appear in reference to driving without a driver license. The passenger was cited for fishing without a fishing license and was later released. The driver was arrested and booked into jail for his warrant and another charge of driving without a driver license. Upon booking, the jail used his fingerprints which revealed another active warrant under a different name and date of birth. The investigation revealed that he had falsely identified himself during that arrest. This individual is now facing two warrants in two counties and another charge in Madison County.
MAJOR WILDLIFE ASSISTANCE
The FWC dispatch received numerous calls in reference to a deer that was caught in the fence along Interstate 10. Officer Mobley responded and was able to untangle the deer from the fence. After being freed, although extremely tired, the deer made its way safely back into the woods.
Officer Hallsten was driving in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge when he observed a vehicle that was unable to maintain a single lane. Officer Hallsten conducted a traffic stop and, after field sobriety tasks, he arrested the subject for DUI.
Officers Hadwin and Cybula were on foot patrol at Sebastian Inlet State Park when Officer Hadwin observed a man walking along a rocky shoreline cautiously carrying a white trash bag that appeared to possibly have a fish inside. The subject slowly bent down below the rock line and came back up with an empty bag. The subject then walked a good distance away and continued fishing. Both officers conducted fisheries inspections on the five subjects within that area. During that time, Officer Cybula was able to locate an undersized snook that the subject had hidden below multiple rocks. The appropriate citation was issued.
While on land patrol in Melbourne, Officers Rasey and Wehner received a call in reference to two subjects taking illegal seatrout. After arriving in the area, Officer Rasey observed two subjects matching the complainant’s description on a nearby causeway relief bridge. Upon making contact with the suspects, a fisheries inspection was conducted. Both were found to be in possession of several undersized spotted seatrout. The subjects advised that some of the fish were given to them by others and that it was their first time fishing. However, a witness advised that the suspects had been fishing for a while and that they refused to return their illegally caught fish to the water when confronted by other fishermen. Both subjects each received three criminal citations for the violations.
Officer J. Humphrey was on water patrol on the north end of Brevard County when she observed two subjects actively harvesting blue crabs from a recreational trap. They were in an area where there had been unmarked traps, so she approached the vessel to conduct a resource inspection. The crab trap was being rebaited with pig’s feet when she approached. An inspection of the trap revealed its owner’s name which did not match either of the subjects aboard the vessel. The captain claimed that he must have gotten the trap mixed up with his and that he did not mean to pull it. The captain claimed to have a total of ten traps split between him and his son. A license check of the vessel’s captain returned with a felony warrant out of Okeechobee. The subject was arrested and booked into the Brevard County Jail. Officers J. Humphrey and Hallsten then returned to the location of the captain’s traps and pulled a total of fourteen with fresh pig’s feet for bait. Additional charges were filed through the State Attorney for trap theft, over the recreational limit of stone crab traps, no degradable panel and unmarked traps.
Officers Rogers and Platt were conducting fisheries inspections at Sebastian Inlet State Park. While on patrol, they observed a group of men dumping freshly caught fish into the trunk of a sedan in the parking lot. After conducting a closer inspection, one of the individuals was found in possession of an undersized snook measuring at only 26 3/4” long. The individual was issued a citation for the offense.
Officer Meade and Investigator Crews received information about illegal dumping on private property. The officers conducted surveillance of the property and obtained a description of the violator’s vehicle. They located the vehicle and interviewed the suspect. During the interview, the suspect admitted to contracting a job to remove trees from a property in Ormond Beach and dumping the debris on the property. Criminal charges were filed with the State Attorney’s Office.
Officer Malicoat was on water patrol in the New Smyrna Beach area when she inspected a recreational fishing vessel for fisheries compliance and safety equipment requirements. The four men on board were in possession of five red drum. The adult male operator was issued a criminal notice to appear for possession of over the daily bag limit for red drum.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
The Exchange Club of South Brevard appreciated the support provided by Lieutenant Zamonis and Officers Rutherford, Hallsten and Balgo during their first Junior Fishing Tournament. There were 23 youth who participated in the event. The youth came from the Boys and Girls Club of Melbourne and from the Masters Workshop of Melbourne. They caught a total of 65 fish and one crab.
Officer Bresie and Investigator Wayne participated in an outreach event at the Department of Homeland Security in Orlando. There were approximately 50 elementary school students in attendance. The FWC’s presentation was well received and we have already been requested to attend next year’s event.
Officer Franks was conducting resource inspections on the Peace River in Desoto County when he saw a subject fishing with a rod and reel on the bank of the river. When he conducted a resource inspection, the subject did not have a valid freshwater fishing license and did not have any identification. Officer Franks also discovered that there was a warrant for the subject’s arrest. The subject was arrested and charged accordingly.
Officers Franks, Cloud, Bontrager, Travis and Wester participated in a Targeted Enforcement Detail in Hardee and Desoto counties. They targeted illegal trespassing, night hunting and destruction of fences in the area. This is a serious public safety concern due to the potential of livestock getting on roadways. During the detail, Officers Bontrager and Wester assisted local law enforcement in arresting two subjects for illegal trespassing while hunting. The subjects entered the property with an ATV and hunted hogs without landowner consent. The Hardee County Sheriff’s Office took the two subjects into custody and enforcement action was taken.
Officer Spradlin and Lieutenant Grover assisted Hernando County Sheriff’s Office with a case where a male was attacked and stabbed. They located an area where a subject may have fled into the woods nearby, and secured the area until Hernando County Sheriff’s Office K9 unit arrived.
Investigator Ervin and Officer Cloud worked a complaint of illegal road hunting occurring in October 2015. After numerous investigative hours, a subject was located and interviewed. Because of the investigation, the subject was cited for illegally hunting from the road and charges were filed through the State Attorney’s Office. A 148-inch deer was seized as evidence.
After receiving multiple complaints from commercial blue crab fisherman, Officers Berg and Gaudion surveyed the area in question in the Alafia River and discovered one recreational fisherman had a total of nineteen traps in the area. This individual was also suspected of robbing local traps belonging to commercial fisherman. The officers set up a motion-activated camera in the affected area. When the suspect arrived at the boat ramp in the afternoon, he was found to be in possession of approximately fifteen gallons of blue crab, five gallons over the ten allowed. The officers retrieved the camera and noticed that the suspect had pulled a commercial trap and removed the crabs from the trap. The suspect was arrested and charged with over the bag limit of blue crab, over the trap limit for blue crab, trap molestation and theft of blue crab from commercial traps.
After receiving complaints from commercial blue crab fisherman in the Little Manatee River, Officers Berg and Gaudion led an ongoing investigation. The officers set up a motion-activated camera in the affected area. The officers later retrieved video and pictures from the camera revealing a subject pulling a trap that did not belong to him and emptying the crabs into his vessel. After conducting an interview, the individual was charged with felony blue crab trap molestation and theft of blue crab from commercial traps.
Officers Perry and Salem were on patrol near Matlacha. They noticed a vessel operating without navigation lights and watched as the vessel approach a dock light to fish. A short time later, the officers saw an individual catch a snook and immediately place it in the boats live well. When the vessel began to leave, the officers stopped the vessel to conduct a resource inspection. Upon inspection, they found an undersized snook. The snook was returned to the water alive, and the subject was issued a citation for possessing an undersized snook.
Officers Pulaski, Beckman and Lieutenant Parisoe were on water patrol in the Gulf of Mexico where they were conducting inspections of commercial shrimp vessels. During one inspection, Officer Pulaski observed drug paraphernalia in plain view. A search revealed several items of paraphernalia, and one individual in possession of narcotics. The resource inspection disclosed the harvesters were in possession of undersized flounder. The officers issued citations for the violations, and they seized the undersized flounder, drug paraphernalia, and narcotics as evidence.
Lieutenant Parisoe was on land patrol at Anclote River Park when he noticed individuals removing items from a vessel. He pulled alongside to make contact and determine if the individuals had harvested any fish. During the contact, Lieutenant Parisoe conducted a resource inspection to determine compliance. When he searched the cooler, he located several undersized spotted sea trout and one undersized flounder. Lieutenant Parisoe issued the harvester a citation and a warning for the violations, and the fish were seized as evidence.
Lieutenants Wells, Holcomb, Hinds and Officers Smith and Stephens went on offshore patrol aboard the FWC Offshore Patrol Vessel Gulf Sentry. They patrolled out to approximately 60 nautical miles west of Pinellas County. During the patrol, they inspected numerous commercial and recreational fishing vessels. One vessel was using red grouper for bait and had filleted red grouper in the bottom of a cooler under all their legal fish. The vessel captain was cited for possession of reef fish in not whole condition.
While on foot patrol in the area of the North Skyway Fishing Pier, Officers Bibeau and Bibler observed two individuals that were actively fishing from shore. The officers conducted a fisheries inspection and at the conclusion found the subjects to be in possession of 4 undersized and out-of-season gag grouper and 10 undersized mangrove snapper. Officer Bibeau wrote both individuals a misdemeanor citation for possession of gag grouper during closed season and multiple warnings for the remaining violations.
While on foot patrol in the area of the North Skyway Fishing Pier, Officer Bibeau observed two individuals that were actively fishing from shore. Officer Bibeau made contact with the individuals to conduct a fisheries inspection. The individuals advised Officer Bibeau that they had not caught any fish, but when Officer Bibeau inquired about the cooler in the back of the subject’s vehicle, he admitted to having a snook. Officer Bibeau located an undersized snook in the cooler and wrote the subject a misdemeanor citation for the violation.
Officer Creel was on land patrol when he observed a subject wandering in the roadway. Officer Creel made contact with the subject and determined the subject was under the influence of drugs. Officer Creel contacted EMS to transport the subject to the hospital where he was Baker Acted. Officer Creel inventoried the subject’s belongings and found 3 grams of cannabis. Charges will be direct filed.
Lieutenant Grover, Officers Spradlin and Henry assisted EMS and Hernando County Sheriff’s Office with an intoxicated female who had jumped out of a tree along the Weeki Wachee River, and landed on either tree roots, or some wooded platform. She possibly had a broken neck and was taken to the hospital for treatment.
Officer Smith responded to a medical emergency on Lake Istokpoga. A subject was suffering from heat stroke and having seizures. Officer Smith found the vessel and was able to provide lifesaving first aid until EMS arrived.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Franks and Scinta instructed the law portion of the Hunter Safety Program to approximately 12 students in Desoto County. They were able to discuss the importance of the Hunter Safety Program and the importance of hunting rules and regulations. After the class, the officers answered questions and provided other information about conservation.
Officer Cloud attended the annual CCA fishing derby at Lake Katherine in Desoto County. Approximately 150 kids attended the event. Officer Cloud spoke with the kids and parents about rules and regulations pertaining to freshwater fishing and the laws governing the American Alligator.
Officers Cloud and Franks were guest speakers for the Hardee County Explorers Club. Officer Franks gave the kids a different perspective of law enforcement by talking about the unique abilities that FWC has. Officer Cloud performed a demonstration with K-9 Donzi. Thirteen kids from the community attended.
Officer Cloud performed a K-9 demonstration for the “Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work” day at the Lakeland FWC field office. Eight kids from the community attended the event.
SOUTH REGION A
Officers Vacin and Stower were on patrol in central Broward County. They conducted a marine fisheries inspection on an individual. The individual was found to be in possession of undersized mutton snapper. The individual had previous warnings for taking undersized snapper. The individual was given a criminal notice to appear citation and the mutton snapper was photographed for evidence and was able to be released back into the water alive.
Investigator Corteguera and Officers Seldomridge and Brock responded to a boating accident in the area of Pompano Beach where a vessel had struck a channel marker. The officers surveyed the damage and interviewed several individuals and witnesses. The accident investigation is still ongoing.
Officer Vacin responded to a report of a vessel on the beach at John Lloyd State Park. He interviewed the individuals that were on board the vessel and was informed that the vessel’s bilge pump had possibly stopped working and water started to come into the vessel. The vessel capsized and washed up onto the beach. No one was injured and the vessel was eventually removed.
Officers Rogers and Carroll were conducting safety and fisheries inspections in the Intracoastal Waterway and Peck Lake area. After numerous safety and fisheries inspections, the officers stopped a vessel which was in possession of dolphin, eel, golden tilefish and one out-of-season scamp grouper. The officers educated the subjects about the importance to following the different regulations and fishing seasons. Officer Rogers issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of out-of-season scamp grouper.
While on foot patrol at Twin Rivers Park, Officer Carroll found two individuals in possession of bonefish. The individuals were cited accordingly.
Officer Willems received a call from dispatch that an individual was cast netting and keeping freshwater game fish at the St. Lucie locks. The complainant was contacted and was able to give a detailed description, and also verified that the subject was still in the area. Once on scene, the suspect was identified using the description given, and was approached for a resource inspection. The suspect had 5 sunshine bass that he had harvested using a cast net. The subject was issued one criminal citation for taking freshwater game fish by an illegal method. He also received a warning for no fishing license.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officer Spanier responded to a marina on Palm Beach in reference to a boating accident that occurred when one vessel was reportedly damaged by a passing vessel’s wake. No one was injured and the investigation is ongoing.
While conducting fisheries inspections at Phil Foster Park, Officer Mann encountered an individual in possession of two undersized mutton snapper. The individual was cited accordingly.
Officer Nasworth was conducting freshwater fisheries inspections at the Lake Harbor Locks. Officer Nasworth observed a subject get off of a bucket which contained six black crappie less than 10” in length. Officer Nasworth advised the subject that the minimum size limit for black crappie for Lake Okeechobee is 10” total length. Officer Nasworth issued the subject a citation with a mandatory court appearance.
Officers Alford, Greene, Nasworth, Bodden, Deweese, and Investigator Lafoy responded to a boating accident with injuries on Lake Okeechobee. The vessel collided into a channel marker injuring both occupants. Officers Greene, Nasworth, and Alford interviewed witnesses and observed the vessel that was involved in the accident at Tory Island. Officer Lafoy interviewed a passenger of the vessel in Clewiston at the Hendry Regional Hospital in Hendry County. Officers Deweese and Bodden identified the marker the vessel collided with in Lake Harbor. The operator of the vessel was flown to Lee Memorial Hospital in Lee County due to injuries. The investigation is ongoing.
Officers Schroer and Merizio were on patrol in the Corbett Wildlife Management Area (WMA). During a traffic stop on a vehicle, they noticed there were several American alligator parts on the dash board and in the ashtray. When questioned about the alligator parts, the driver said he caught the gator a few years back with his uncle. They also noticed an alligator foot hanging out of an open compartment on the dashboard. Another alligator foot was located in plain view in the bed of the truck. A shotgun was located under the backseat of the truck. After being advised of his right to remain silent, the driver admitted that he had lied and that he made up the story of him and his uncle taking the gator. He said the gator was taken a few nights prior in the Corbett WMA. When asked where the alligator meat was, he said that it was in his freezer at his house. All of the evidence was recovered and the driver was cited for violation of Florida administrative code pertaining to American Alligator.
Lieutenant Morrison, Investigator Fowler, and Officers McLendon, Aswall, Norbrothen and Schroer responded to a civil disturbance complaint at John D. MacArthur State Park. Dozens of individuals were arguing over a pavilion rental when a fight suddenly erupted. Through third party witnesses and physical evidence on the scene, it was determined an opposing party member had struck another subject in the face leading to injury. The injured subject wanted to press charges, the aggressor was arrested and charged with battery.
Officers Haynes and Simons assisted Martin County Sheriff’s Office with searching for a missing woman. A tip came in that the woman’s body may be in the Hungryland Wildlife Environmental Area. The officers used a buggy to transport cadaver dogs and their handlers around the area to aid in the search. They were unable to find any evidence that supported the tip. The search continued in other wooded areas.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officers Spanier, Guerin, and Morrow responded to a report of a snorkeler in distress in the Palm Beach Inlet. Upon their arrival, the officers observed a male subject in the water clinging to the side of a kayak. The officers were able to assist the subject back to the vessel he had departed from. The vessel, which offered snorkel tours in the area, was boarded by the officers. The vessel captain was identified and cited for having patrons in the water with no diver down flag.
Lieutenant Morrison received a report from the Jupiter Police Department of a missing woman. The report stated a woman in her mid-20s was last seen riding a wave board in a tidal pool at Dubois County Park. The tidal pool flows into the Jupiter Inlet and, at the time of her disappearance, the tide was ebbing. Lieutenant Morrison responded in his vessel and directed Officers Aswall and Schroer to respond in a second vessel. Along with vessels from the U.S Coast Guard (USCG) and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO), the FWC officers began conducting a search of the Jupiter Inlet and the adjacent area offshore. Additionally, the USCG mobilized two aircraft to support the PBSO helicopter. After an extensive search, the woman was located on shore and transported to a hospital in Jupiter.
MAJOR WILDLIFE ASSISTANCE
Officer Willems was on patrol in Hobe Sound when he spotted three cow calves on the side of the road outside of a fenced pasture. He activated his emergency lights to warn traffic, and was able to shadow the calves with his truck to keep them off the road. Deputies from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office arrived on scene along with the ranch owner and, with their help, the calves were guided back into the pasture.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officer Norbrothen was dispatched to a call where local police had responded to an alligator complaint inside of a residential neighborhood. When he arrived, he found an approximately four-foot alligator laying on the walking path to the house, not allowing anyone in or out of the house. Officer Norbrothen was able to safely catch the alligator and transport it to a local WMA.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Nasworth, Moore and Lieutenant Brown participated in “All Hazards Day” in Moore Haven. They represented the FWC and provided information on the importance of boating safety and wearing life jackets.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
The FWC Honor Guard members from around the state attended the 34th Annual Police Memorial at the State Capitol in Tallahassee. They honored the fallen heroes that gave the ultimate sacrifice protecting the citizens of Florida.
SOUTH REGION B
While on water patrol in Naples Bay, Officers Arbogast, Lugg and White were performing routine boating safety checks when they stopped a vessel whose operator exhibited signs of impairment. The boating safety check was performed and it was found that the vessel neglected to possess a Type-IV Throwable Personal Flotation Device on board. The operator consented to perform field sobriety tasks, which he performed poorly. The subject was subsequently arrested and placed into custody, and transported to the Collier County Jail for operating a vessel while impaired. The subject was charged with operating a vessel with an unlawful breath alcohol level of .08 or higher after blowing a .141 and a .126.
While on water patrol, Officer Kleis stopped a kayak to conduct a boating safety and resource inspection. The inspection revealed that the required safety equipment was not on board. Further inspection of a cooler on board revealed multiple undersized sheepshead. The operator of the kayak received a criminal notice to appear for the fish violations, citations, and warnings for the safety violations. The fish were seized as evidence.
While on water patrol, Officer Kleis stopped a vessel to conduct a boating safety inspection. Upon making contact with the operator, Officer Kleis noticed multiple possible indicators of impairment. The operator agreed to perform field sobriety tasks. Upon completion of the tasks, Officer Kleis determined that the operator was impaired. The operator was arrested and booked into the Collier County Jail.
Officers Araujo and Nelson were on water patrol on the C.T. Randle Offshore Patrol Vessel approximately 50 miles west of Shark Point in Monroe County. During a fisheries inspection of a commercial boat, several violations were found including possession of reef fish/red grouper for bait, red grouper not in whole condition, undersized red grouper, and a marine life violation of a deceased spotted moray eel. In total, the officers issued three federal citations and one state citation.
Officer Piekenbrock, along with Officer Mason, were on land patrol in Monroe County. While on top of a bridge, they observed a man actively spearfishing in the waters below them. The suspect had a large bag trailing behind him approximately six feet. Officer Piekenbrock walked down from the bridge and asked the fisherman to come to shore. When the suspect arrived on shore, he no longer had the large bag in his possession. The man was read his Miranda rights and advised the officers that he did not speak English. Officer Piekenbrock went into the water to retrieve the bag, which was located and brought to shore. The bag contained twenty hogfish, six of which were undersized, two undersized and out-of-season red grouper, and one out-of-season wrung spiny lobster tail. The suspect was cited for a total of eight misdemeanors and was transported to the Marathon Jail without incident.
Officer Wilkins was checking the north end of Channel 5 Bridge when he noticed two individuals diving on the ocean side of US 1. Officer Wilkins walked down the embankment towards the water to see what the divers were up to. Officer Wilkins noticed one of the two men holding a green bag and what appeared to be a spear. Officer Wilkins then decided to hide out in the mangroves and see what the two men were catching. After about 20 minutes, Officer Wilkins approached the two men and asked to see their catch. At that point, the man holding the green bag dropped it into the water trying to hide it from Officer Wilkins. The two men got out of the water and Officers Munkelt and Dube arrived several minutes later to assist in the investigation. Officer Munkelt dove into the water to recover the items that were dropped. A green bag containing six lobster and a spear were recovered. Upon further investigation of the cooler that was nearby, 24 more lobster were found as well as a filleted parrot fish. In total, 30 lobster were recovered and 28 of those were undersized, and 27 of those were speared. The older gentlemen admitted, after Miranda Rights were read, that he was responsible for all the lobster and that it was he who speared them all. The suspect was booked into the jail and charged with several misdemeanors.
Officer Plussa was conducting overnight land-based water patrol in Marathon when he observed multiple subjects illegally fishing on the Vaca Cut Bridge with their vehicle illegally parked on the right of way and sidewalk. There was a highly-visible “NO MOTOR VEHICLES” sign less than five feet from where their truck was parked and multiple highly-visible “NO FISHING FROM BRIDGE” signs at all four corners of the bridge. Their actions also posed a navigational hazard to the boat traffic below as Vaca Cut is a very densely traveled channel. Their vehicle’s license plate did not have a registration sticker on it whatsoever. The subjects did not have a fishing license. An inspection revealed them to be in possession of multiple fish including undersized and out-of-season grouper and snapper. The subjects received a total of five misdemeanors charges and four civil citations for their many resource, license, and public safety traffic violations.
Officers Mattson and Baumgartner were on water patrol at night in Buttonwood Sound. The officers observed a vessel leaving a local restaurant and bar in Key Largo. The vessel was not displaying any navigation lights. They initiated a vessel stop and began an inspection. The operator was very unsteady and had a difficult time answering simple questions. He had watery, glassy eyes and extremely slurred speech as well as an odor of an alcoholic beverage. He was a local boat dealer in the upper keys, the vessel did not have any FL numbers on it and one of the other passengers showed the officers a “dealer placard” that was in the safety equipment. Officer Mattson asked if they were on a demo and at first they stated “Yes” and then said “no.” Officer Baumgartner, having believed that the operator was impaired, asked him if he would consent to field sobriety tasks. The operator refused to perform the field sobriety tasks. He was then placed under arrest for BUI. The vessel was turned over to a sober passenger. The subject was charged with BUI, misuse of the dealer placard as well as three infractions including refusal of the breath test. The operator was then transported to jail.
Officer Mattson was on water patrol. It was 20 minutes after official sunset and he observed a vessel operating without navigation lights. He stopped the vessel and the operator showed signs of impairment. Officer Mattson asked the operator if he would consent to some seated field sobriety exercises and the operator agreed. The operator’s field sobriety was poor. The subject was handcuffed and placed under arrest for BUI. The man became belligerent and demanded a breathalyzer. Officer Mattson had the Intoxilyzer with him on his vessel and after a 20-minute observation, the man provided a breath sample. The results were .107 and .101. The vessel operator was arrested and transported to the Monroe County Jail.
Officer Hein was on land patrol in the Duck Key area when he noticed several individuals swimming in the water off the side of the road. Officer Hein approached a large group of people having a picnic and several people in the water, one individual wearing a wetsuit and fins with a spear gun underneath him. Officer Hein also noticed several fishing rods with lines in the water. Officer Hein conducted a resource inspection and determined the individual in the water was also the individual utilizing the fishing rods. The man explained that no fish had been caught. Officer Hein noticed a large tail of what appeared to be a yellow jack sticking out of a cooler blatantly in plain view. Officer Hein again asked if any fish had been captured and the group explained they did not have any fish. Officer Hein inquired about the large tail hanging out of the cooler to which the man forgot about and explained that somebody had given him the fish. Officer Hein gained consent to inspect the fish and upon closer inspection of the contents of the cooler, he determined the man to be in possession of 3 undersized snook, 2 of which were speared. The man was placed in custody, transported to a detention facility, and charged with 3 counts of possession of undersized snook, 3 counts of possession of a snook while simultaneously in possession of prohibited fishing gear, 2 counts of taking snook by illegal method, possession of snook during closed season, possession of over the bag limit of snook, and failure to have a snook permit.
Lieutenant Payne, Officers Mason and Piekenbrock were on land patrol when they received a call from Dispatch regarding a boat that was in distress off of Summerland Key. The officers drove to the nearest patrol vessel and navigated toward the incident location via GPS coordinates. As they approached the area, the vessel in distress could not be located due to the heavy sea conditions. Dispatch was in communication with one of the victims and he advised that he had a visual of the FWC patrol vessel’s blue lights. The victim then set off a flare that the officers could clearly observe over the rough water. The vessel was located, capsized, with two people clinging onto it. The victims were pulled from the water onto the patrol vessel and transported to shore near Summerland Key where EMS was waiting. The two men rescued said they spent about an hour in the water. They were treated and released by EMS.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS
The FWC Offshore Patrol Vessel C.T. Randall went on a five-day patrol from Naples to Key West to enhance the protection of mutton snapper during their peak spawning times. The C.T. Randall and crew (Lieutenant Shea, Officers Araujo, Hughes, Nelson, Polly and Thurkettle) patrolled out to 80 nautical miles offshore into the Gulf of Mexico and patrolled off of Key West from Eyeglass Bar to Western Dry Rocks covering over 296 nautical miles of distance. The crew of the C.T. Randall wrote warnings for using treble hooks and multiple hooks for reef fish with natural bait; using yellowtail snapper and reef fish as bait; having no vessel registration certificate on board the vessel; and improper display of registration numbers. The crew also issued federal resource citations for possession of undersized red grouper; possession of reef fish and red grouper as bait; and possession of reef fish and red grouper not in whole condition. The state resource citations issued consisted of possession of marine life that were not landed alive (moray eel); and possessing over the commercial limit of great barracuda of 161 fish. In addition to these warnings and citations, the crew counseled and allowed a vessel operator to repair and fix damaged Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs).
While conducting speed enforcement in the Panther Zone on Corkscrew Road, Officers Despian and Johnson stopped a vehicle for excessive speed. Officers Kleis, Polly and Reams arrived on scene to assist. Upon making contact with the driver, they noticed multiple possible indicators of impairment. Officer Kleis administered field sobriety tasks on the driver, who was subsequently arrested for driving under the influence, and booked into jail by Officer Despian. The driver agreed to a breath alcohol test and provided a breath sample of .105.
While conducting speed enforcement in the Panther Zone on Corkscrew road, Officer Kleis and Reams stopped a vehicle for traveling 71 miles per hour in the posted 45 miles per hour zone. The driver did not have a driver’s license and was subsequently arrested and booked into the Collier County Jail for driving without valid driver’s license.
Officer Boyd conducted a special detail of harbor patrol within Key West Harbor and Sea Plane Basin. Officer Boyd’s primary focus was on the managed anchorage for boating safety compliance. His detail resulted in 6 boating citations and 22 written warnings.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Despian and Lugg attended a public outreach event sponsored by local Girl Scout Troop 534. Troop 534 organized a public safety fair at North Naples United Methodist Church and invited FWC to participate. Officers Despian and Lugg provided a vessel and patrol vehicle for display. A booth was set up with information relating to hunting, fishing and boating safety. Almost every child and some adults that approached the booth got the opportunity to get on the patrol vessel and look at what FWC uses to accomplish its mission. There were several interested applicants who were shown how to apply with the agency. The FWC was a big hit along with the local bomb squad and fire department.
Lieutenant Sushil and Officer Eaton conducted an outreach event at Gulf Coast High School for 80 Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Cadets. The officers spoke about FWC’s mission, goals, jurisdiction, how to become an FWC officer, and life at the academy. Several students expressed interest in applying with the FWC in the future.
Officer Dube participated in the “Kids Let’s Go Fishing” (www.kidsletsgofishing.com) Seminar at Miami Country Day School in Miami. Officer Dube gave a presentation to approximately 125 6th-grade students and faculty in the school’s auditorium. Officer Dube was accompanied by the founders of the organization along with a ranger from Biscayne National Park and speaker from the Guy Harvey Foundation. The presentation focused on stewardship, ecosystems and loss of habitat in our surrounding waters. The students were treated to a day of fishing the following day on a Charter Boat by Captain Wayne Conn, the President of the Foundation.