Officer Corbin was conducting state fisheries inspections and license checks on Okaloosa Island at Marler Park and saw two individuals actively fishing with rods and reels. The individuals harvested pinfish and a mullet. During the resource inspection, one individual provided a false name and was issued a notice to appear citation for providing a false name and a citation for no fishing license.
Officer Corbin responded to a single-vessel boating accident and determined the vessel was traveling on Choctawhatchee Bay heading back to the Choctaw Beach Boat Ramp. The vessel struck an unknown submerged object and there was severe damage to the vessel hull. The operator managed to get the vessel back to the boat ramp and trailered. There were no injuries.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
The Gulfarium scheduled a sea turtle release at Henderson Beach State Park. Approximately 250 people attended and four sea turtles were released in the Gulf of Mexico. One of the two Loggerhead turtles released had been rescued by Officers Jarvis, Maltais and Lieutenant Clark in March of this year. Officers Jarvis and Lieutenant Clark provided security and traffic control and answered questions from the public.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Officer Stanley was patrolling private property for trespassing in northeast Alachua County when he noticed several large trash bags that had been recently dumped. After digging through the garbage, Officer Stanley found an address on several pieces of mail and located the person whose name was on the envelopes. After Miranda rights were read, the individual admitted to the violation and provided a written statement. Charges will be direct-filed with the state attorney’s office.
Officer Geib was on land patrol and performed a resource inspection on an individual fishing from the bank. The individual did not possess a valid saltwater shoreline license and was in possession of undersized gray snapper. The individual was also in possession of stone crabs during closed season and blue crabs. Several of the stone crabs and blue crabs were egg-bearing. The individual also possessed clams in a closed area. Appropriate citations were issued for the violations.
Resource Protection Officer Stuhr pulled into the parking lot of Saw Pit Creek Boat Ramp and noticed several people walking off the bridge. An individual reached into his cooler, grabbed something and walked to the end of the bridge to hide it. An undersized red drum was retrieved from where it had been hidden. The appropriate citations were issued.
Officers of the Resource Protection Squad (RPS) have been working to find individuals who were operating unlicensed seafood retail businesses and received information about a start-up business in a house. The house was located and the RPS coordinated with investigations to contact the owner. The investigation revealed that seafood was being sold without a license and there were quality control issues. The owners voluntarily shut the business down and were cited for licensing, quality control and records violations.
Investigator Izsak and Officer Shearer were conducting resource inspections at Oak Harbor Boat Ramp when a disturbance broke out across the parking lot from the ramp. A female subject was trying to leave the scene in a jeep and driving in an erratic manner. The officers immediately noted signs of impairment in the driver and she was unable to complete seated field sobriety tasks. The driver was arrested for DUI and refused to submit to a breath test after being booked into jail.
Officer Cline was on foot patrol at Kirby Pit when he located a subject trespassing inside the fenced perimeter and fishing in one of the ponds. The subject caught several fish and threw them into some nearby brush. When a resource inspection was attempted to address the trespass, the subject fled on foot. Officer Cline gave chase and ended up in a nearby neighborhood where the subject committed burglary of an occupied residence to prevent being caught. The subject escaped apprehension at the residence. The subject was identified through interviews with the residents and the appropriate resource violations, along with burglary charges, have been direct-filed with the state attorney’s office.
Officer Starling received information alleging two subjects were unlawfully parked and picking mushrooms in Bayard Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Officer Starling saw both suspects not only picking the mushrooms, which are known to have a hallucinogenic effect if ingested, but also caught the suspects with a pillow case full of the toxic mushrooms. The mushrooms were destroyed and both suspects were issued appropriate notices to appear for WMA violations.
Officers targeted the opening of gag grouper and red snapper seasons working both inshore and offshore harvest of the fisheries. The officers conducted approximately 50 vessel resource inspections which resulted in six resource citations for unlawful reef fish and multiple boating safety citations and warnings.
Officers conducted a Citrus-Hernando Shrimp Zone detail to target gear compliance and commercial boating safety. During a vessel stop, the officers saw that the roller frame on one vessel appeared to be over the 16-feet allowable length. The frames were measured and found to be 18 feet long. The vessel had multiple history entries in the system for other shrimping violations. The captain was cited to pay or appear in court for the use of roller frames greater than 16 feet.
Officers were working inbound shrimp vessels to determine if they were harvesting scallops. During the detail, several vessels were inspected and no scallops were located. Following the shrimp boat inspection, the officers shifted their attention to the possibility that boaters may be taking scallops in Citrus County. The officers arrived in the Bird Keys area and saw a vessel at anchor with a diver’s down flag. The officers saw two divers in the water as they approached. A fisheries inspection revealed that the divers were in possession of bay scallops. The two divers were cited for the harvesting of bay scallops during the closed season.
Officer Ransom discovered a picture on Facebook of a subject holding a dead softshell turtle. He identified the subject in the picture and questioned him about the turtle. The subject confessed to killing the softshell turtle during closed season. Charges for taking softshell turtle out of season will be direct-filed with the state attorney’s office for further prosecution.
Officers Wilcox and Albritton were on foot patrol in the East entrance gate area of the impoundment inside Hickory Mound WMA. The impoundment is closed to vehicular traffic by an FWC administrative closure. The public is aware of this closure, but the lock on the East gate is being continually cut and removed by someone. The officers saw several individuals in a vehicle approach the gate, look around to see if anyone was near, then open the gate and drive into the impoundment. The officers contacted the individuals and issued the appropriate criminal citation to the driver.
Officers responded to a search and rescue mission where three persons left the Homosassa River in a 22-foot hurricane deck boat to fish approximately 22 miles offshore. The vessel was occupied by two elderly men and a 13-year-old child. The vessel was reported overdue at 10:30 p.m. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) and FWC officers responded offshore. The overdue boaters were located by shrimpers offshore from Hernando Beach. The USCG towed the vessel to shore without incident.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS
Officers are working area lakes for boating and resource compliance.
Officer Justus assisted the USCG in Kingsley Lake by participating in many mock search-and-rescue exercises with Officer Justus playing an important surface-to-air role in this lifesaving training. Officer Justus was commended by USCG Lieutenant Cinque for his participation in this exercise which demonstrates inter-agency cooperation and coordination during emergency situations.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Boone spoke to approximately 25 children and parents at the Branford Public Library in Suwannee County. He provided a boating safety demonstration which explained the importance of wearing a life jacket and being safe when on or around the water.
Officer Mobley held a Defensive Tactics instructional class for 35 Naval Sea Cadets at the Middle Florida Baptist Assembly at Pickett Lake.
Officer Mims attended a radKIDS Summer Camp at the University of Florida. A two-hour presentation was given to about 37 children, ages ranging from 8 to 12. The children also had a chance to see a baby alligator while Officer Mims was explaining FWC’s role in preserving our resources.
Officer Mims attended an Aquatic Leadership Camp at Poe Springs County Park. After a 1 ½-hourpresentation about the FWC, Officer Mims displayed a small live alligator to 14 children between the ages of 13 and 15.
Officer Marroquin was patrolling an area for illegal night hunting when he saw two vehicles operating along a secluded roadway. The rear vehicle was operating without lights and with multiple hunting dogs present with tracking collars. A traffic stop was conducted to address the light violation and to conduct a resource inspection. During the stop the operator showed signs of impairment and admitted to not having a driver’s license. The operator then refused to give his name and became belligerent. The operator was arrested for driving while license revoked, DUI (2nd offense), resisting without violence and an infraction for no tail lights. The operator also refused to provide a breath sample.
While on patrol, officers received a report of a missing woman in the Banana River. After speaking to the male vessel operator, it was discovered that he and the female passenger had a verbal altercation resulting in her jumping from the vessel. The operator had waited approximately thirty minutes before calling law enforcement, stating that they had been drinking alcohol. The woman was found at a relative’s residence after a thorough search. The operator was asked to perform standard field sobriety tasks and was subsequently arrested for operating a vessel while normal faculties were impaired and received a citation for refusal to provide a breath sample.
Officers Bernard and Guirate were conducting a fisheries inspection on a vessel in Grandin Lake when they noticed the operator appeared impaired. After completing seated field sobriety tests, the subject was placed under arrest for BUI. Breath alcohol test results were .187 and .191, more than double the legal limit.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY
Officer B. Miller received a report from a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Marine Deputy that a local man was transmitting live video footage on Facebook of himself petting and stroking a manatee for several minutes near Julia’s Island in the Intra-Costal Waterway just north of the St. Augustine waterfront. Officers B. Miller and Harris quickly responded to the scene in their patrol vessel and found the man on the west side of the island in waist-deep water next to his boat, playing with an adult manatee. The man told the officers that although he was a life-long resident of St. Augustine, he was unaware of the law prohibiting his interaction with the manatee. Officer Miller explained the law to the resident and then issued him a notice to appear for the misdemeanor violation.
In the early morning hours, Officer Harris was on foot patrol at the Guana WMA/State Park complex, near the dam at the south end of Lake Ponte Vedra and a popular saltwater fishing spot. From a concealed position, he saw a subject, who had remained in the park after closing hours, actively fishing. Over the course of a few minutes, Officer Harris saw the man catch what appeared to be two undersized redfish and conceal them in his cooler. Officer Harris then approached the subject and asked if he had caught any fish. The man replied “No,” but was found to be in possession of two undersized redfish, hidden under a bag of ice in the cooler. He was issued a notice to appear for harvesting undersized redfish and a warning for remaining in the park after hours.
Officers Malicoat and West responded to a reported 36-foot motor yacht beached in downtown Daytona Beach. Eye witnesses reported that the vessel came on shore at around 10:30 AM at approximately 30 mph. Volusia County Beach Safety Officers immediately boarded the vessel and determined there was no one on board. A search for a missing vessel operator was initiated by Volusia County Beach Safety, with assistance from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, USCG Ponce Inlet, and FWC. FWC Investigators responded to the scene and, through the course of the investigation, an adult male was identified as the operator. It was determined he had taken the vessel without the owner’s permission and FWC Investigators and Daytona Beach Police arrested the adult male for grand theft. He was booked into the Volusia County Jail.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Hallsten, Balgo, Graves, Eller, Lejarzar and D. Humphrey teamed up with Elizabeth Winchester from FWC’s Division of Marine Fisheries Education and Outreach Subsection and assisted her with a kids’ fishing clinic in Port Canaveral. More than 400 kids attended and the officers provided insight into ethical fishing, fishing techniques, tackle preparation, and their roles in the conservation circle. FWC officers and staff helped tie tackle, bait hooks, and gave examples on how to remove fish safely.
Officers Norris and Sehl were on water patrol in Lemon Bay when they conducted a resource inspection on a vessel and located an undersized spotted sea trout. The fisherman had been warned two months prior for the same violation. He was issued a notice to appear for the violation.
Officers Godfrey and Baker planned a detail in the Tampa area focusing on BUI and personal watercraft (PWC) violations. The area has seen a substantial increase in PWC operators. The concentrated effort resulted in 25 citations and 40 warnings issued, as well as a response to a PWC and vessel accident with injuries.
Lieutenant Ruggiero completed an investigation into a gopher tortoise violation at a new home development. During his investigation, Lieutenant Ruggiero got statements from witnesses and an admission from the developer that he opened the burrows to look inside for gopher tortoises instead of applying for the required permits. When the developer did not see any gopher tortoises inside the burrow, they contacted a grading company and told them to clear the property. The case has been filed with the state attorney’s office for review and possible prosecution.
Officers Price and Winton were on water patrol on the Estero River when they noticed a small boat with two individuals cast netting. The officers stopped the boat to conduct a resource inspection and discovered an undersized mangrove snapper and an undersized sheepshead in the hatch. While measuring the fish, the officers noticed one of the individuals stacking fish and life jackets on top of a pile of fish on the deck. The officers searched the pile and discovered another undersized mangrove snapper. The individuals were written citations for the sheepshead and failure to have a fishing license and a warning for the undersized mangrove snapper.
Lieutenant Spoede and Officers Price and Winton were on water patrol in Boca Grande Pass when they noticed a vessel coming in from offshore waters. They stopped the vessel to conduct a resource check and discovered that the boat had three red grouper over the bag limit. The operator informed the officers that he had kept one extra because “it was bleeding a lot,” but could not explain why he had two additional fish over the limit. The operator of the vessel was cited for the violation.
Multiple officers from Lee and Charlotte counties responded to a call for assistance from the Florida Highway Patrol and the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office about two subjects that ran into the woods after being approached by a trooper who spotted them in a stolen car. The two subjects were tracked through a series of wooded lots and into a small neighborhood. FWC officers captured one subject behind a manufactured home, then noticed fresh foot sign indicating the second subject was hiding under the home. When an FHP K-9 unit arrived, the second subject came out from under the home and was also arrested.
Lieutenant Hinds was on land patrol around the South Skyway Fishing Pier and performed a fisheries inspection on a subject that had been spearfishing around the base of the bridge. During the inspection, Lieutenant Hinds found that the subject was hiding two out-of-season snook. Both snook had been speared and were well under the 28-inch minimum size limit. The subject was issued several citations and must appear in court for his violations.
Officers Bergwerff, Williams and Lieutenant Parisoe were on water patrol in the Pithlaschascotee River and stopped a vessel violating an idle speed zone. During the stop, the officers saw signs of impairment. Based on their observations, Officer Williams conducted seated field sobriety tasks which the subject performed poorly. Officer Williams arrested the operator for boating under the influence. The individual was transported to Pasco County jail where he refused to provide a sample of his breath.
While on land patrol, Officers Caldwell and Boogaerts received a call from Tarpon Springs Police Department reference a snook spearfishing complaint at Fred Howard Park. Upon arrival, Officers Caldwell and Boogaerts met with the Tarpon Springs officers who advised them that the subject had admitted to spearing three snook. A fisheries inspection was conducted which revealed three snook in a cooler with puncture wounds near the gill plates of the fish. In addition to the illegal method violation, the three snook were also undersized and harvested during closed season. The subject was issued resource citations for harvesting snook by illegal method, possession of snook during closed season, and issued warnings for undersized snook and over the bag limit of snook.
While on water patrol in Boca Ciega Bay, Officer Bibeau received a call from dispatch advising that a subject had caught and kept a snook at a nearby beach. Officer Bibeau arrived a short time later via vessel, and approached the suspect as he was preparing to leave the area. A fisheries inspection revealed the suspect to be in possession of a large snook that was stuffed inside a small cooler. The individual was issued a misdemeanor citation for being in possession of a snook during a closed season.
Officer Bergwerff and Lieutenant Parisoe responded to Hudson Beach to assist Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) with a domestic dispute. The officers learned that a vessel containing a family was stuck in shallow water. The vessel owner had left the vessel and was walking around in the water at night trying to get to shore. A shallow draft vessel was utilized, and the officers located the vessel owner standing near a pylon. The vessel was left anchored and all occupants were returned safely to shore. The PCSO investigated and determined no crime was committed. The individuals were released to family friends. They planned to return after daylight to retrieve their vessel.
Officers Williams, Godfrey, Ferguson, Investigator Tsongranis and Lieutenant Van Trees responded to a report of an overdue kayaker out of Salt Springs State Park. The information was obtained from park staff who located a vehicle at the kayak launch after hours. Officer Williams, Investigator Tsongranis, and Park Manager Belden utilized an FWC airboat to begin a search of the area. They were assisted in their efforts by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Aviation personnel who located a kayak a short distance from the park. However, by the time the officers arrived, the kayak was gone. A short time later, PCSO noticed the vehicle had left the park. The search was concluded as the kayaker had returned and left the area.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Sierra, Hertel and Lieutenant Gerkin assisted with the Sarasota Offshore Grand Prix Friendliest Catch Fishing Tournament. This was the 33rd annual tournament, and is held for clients with special needs that receive services from the Suncoast Charities for Children. This tournament was started in 1984 by the late FMP/FWC Officer Erickson.
SOUTH REGION A
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officer Toby saw an individual fishing and then return to his vehicle to leave the area. Officer Toby stopped the vehicle as it was leaving to conduct a resource inspection and determine if the driver was the registered owner. A records check revealed the driver had a suspended driver’s license that expired in 2010. The individual stated he was aware of this issue and drove regardless. The individual was issued a misdemeanor citation for driving with a suspended driver’s license with knowledge. There was no violation pertaining to the resource inspection.
Officers Stone and Trawinski responded to a call from an FWC aviation unit reporting that two Jeeps were driving off trail in the J.W. Corbett WMA. The officers responded and intercepted the two vehicles. The drivers were issued citations for the violations.
Officer Toby conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle and the driver/owner had a suspended driver’s license. The individual was provided notice by the court system of this suspension prior to this stop. He was issued a misdemeanor citation for driving with a suspended driver’s license with knowledge. The individual’s suspended driver’s license and vehicle registration tag were seized and turned in to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
SOUTH REGION B
Officers Osorio and Barringer were conducting federal fisheries patrol approximately 11 miles west of Doctor’s Pass when they saw a vessel inbound displaying fishing equipment. The officers stopped the vessel to conduct a resource inspection and determined that the captain of the vessel was on a paid charter. Further investigation determined that the captain did not possess the required licenses to guide and retain resources in federal waters. The investigation is ongoing.
Officers Yurewitch and Kleis were conducting land-based water patrol on US 41 near Everglades City. They saw two individuals fishing and a pickup truck parked near them. The officers contacted the two individuals to conduct a fishing license and resource inspection. During the encounter, the fishermen said that the truck was theirs. The officers saw a bucket containing legal fish, and found that neither subject had a fishing license in their possession. When the officers walked by the fishermens’ truck, they looked in the window and saw what appeared to be drugs and drug paraphernalia in plain view near the center console, along with a partially empty bottle of whiskey. The subsequent search revealed marijuana, paraphernalia and a bag of cocaine. The subject was arrested and booked into the Collier County Jail on multiple charges including felony possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The second fisherman was released from the scene and issued a warning for fishing with an expired fishing license.
Two officers, an investigator and a lieutenant participated in a special enforcement detail that targeted personal watercraft operations at Blue Lagoon and Snapper Creek Canal. The entire Blue Lagoon is a regulated slow speed/manatee zone, and Snapper Creek Canal has been the source of frequent calls from citizens reporting PWCs being operated in a careless and/or reckless manner. The two-day weekend detail included 36 vessel inspections, 67 users checked, 19 written warnings and 26 boating citations issued, 1 subject arrested for a felony violation and 2 PWCs seized for suspected title fraud and/or theft.
Officer Piekenbrock and Officer Way were on water patrol when they received a call from dispatch regarding multiple abandoned crawfish traps in the water south of Western Dry Rocks. They responded and identified the owner of the traps by his commercial crawfish endorsement number. A month-long investigation was conducted, subjects were interviewed and traps were seized. The subject was arrested by Officer Piekenbrock and charged with five misdemeanors totaling 51 counts. Officers involved in the investigation include Investigator D. Munkelt, Investigator J. Munkelt, Officer Garrison and Officer Wagner.
Officers Wilkins and Larios were on state water patrol in the Upper Keys when they received a call from a Good Samaritan stating he saw several people taking queen conch from Alligator Reef SPA. Upon arrival, the officers located the vessel in question and performed a resource inspection. Laying on the deck of the vessel were 10 queen conchs, all of which were still alive. Officer Wilkins cited the captain of the vessel accordingly and all the queen conch were returned to the water alive.
Officer Wagner was dispatched to a call of two males harvesting queen conch from shore in the lower keys. He watched one of the individuals holding two conchs and when he saw Officer Wagner, he immediately put them on the ground. The individual said he wasn’t sure what kind of conch they were and led him to more by the shoreline. Officer Mason arrived on the scene to assist. The conch was identified as Queen Conch and there were 12 of them. Officer Wagner searched the vehicles and found a cooler with 7 undersized schoolmaster snapper. The other individual claimed possession of the illegal snapper. Both males were charged with notice to appear citations for the violations.
Officers Garrison and Wagner were on land patrol in the middle keys when they noticed a man talking with a family and holding a reptile in a mesh bag. Officer Garrison recognized the vehicle from earlier in the day when he saw the man capturing Iguanas. They watched the man hand the mesh bag over to the family in exchange for money. They approached them and saw that the mesh bag contained two Iguanas. They asked the individual if he had a permit to sell wildlife and he admitted he did not. In the vehicle were multiple pillow cases and mesh bags which contained Iguanas. He was issued a criminal citation for selling wildlife without a permit.
Officer Mattson saw a vessel aground on the oceanside of Tavernier Creek. The operator admitted that he “thought” he was following his GPS unit. The operator had tried to power his vessel off the sea grass flat as Officer Mattson saw a prop scar at least 75 yards in length. The scar was consistent with his single engine vessel and direction of travel. He was issued a federal citation for the vessel grounding.
Officer Wagner was off duty at a community pool with his family. He noticed a woman frantically screaming on the pool’s edge looking at a little girl in the center of the pool. The girl was struggling to swim and her head was under the water’s surface. Officer Wagner swam to the girl and pulled her out of the water. The girl coughed up water but was in good health and returned safely to her mother.
Officer Wagner received a call from a Good Samaritan who found four individuals on a broken-down vessel in the back country of the lower keys. The Good Samaritan could not assist because he was already at full capacity on his vessel and had to go back to shore to beat the incoming storms. Officer Wagner went out on his patrol vessel and located the individuals tied up to the mangroves. They had no VHF, no anchor, no dry clothes, and their cell phones were dead. Officer Wagner brought the individuals safely back to shore where Officer Mobley was waiting to drive them to their residence.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Barringer, Hazelwood, Collazo, and K-9 Roscoe were invited to attend the Vineyards Community Park Summer Camp Program. The camp hosted 135 children ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade. The officers talked to the campers about water safety around pools and beaches as well as boating safety. The children were also taught about when to call 911 and what to do if separated from their families. Officer Collazo and K-9 Roscoe demonstrated how they work together to find lost people and hidden objects.
Lieutenant Dipre participated in a multi-agency honor guard presentation of colors during the opening ceremony of the 85th Annual United States Conference of Mayors at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach. The conference was hosted by Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine and attended by 300 mayors from around the nation. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett presided, along with former President Bill Clinton.
Officer Dube was the guest host on the “Ladies’ Night Out” radio show at the iconic Green Turtle Inn in Islamorada. Officer Dube gave some helpful boating tips for the upcoming July 4th holiday weekend and promoted Operation Dry Water, which is a National Boating Under the Influence campaign.