Law Enforcement Weekly Report February 17 through February 23, 2017
Lieutenant Hollinhead stopped a vehicle on Eglin Wildlife Management Area (WMA) after he observed a subject standing on the back of a truck discarding debris in a wooded area. An inspection of the debris revealed it was large rolls of old carpet and padding that had been removed from a residence. The subject was arrested for littering (over 15 pounds).
Officer Corbin was on land patrol conducting a resource/fisheries inspection on a commercial vessel with four individuals on board in Fort Walton Beach. Tallahassee Regional Communication Center confirmed one of the four individuals had two active warrants out of Okaloosa County. One of the warrants for failure to appear for an FWC notice to appear citation for undersized red drum. The second warrant was for violation of probation (drug paraphernalia). The individual was arrested and transported to the Okaloosa County Jail.
Officer Corbin was on land patrol following up on an at-risk derelict vessel investigation. The vessel owner was previously cited for failure to transfer vessel title. The owner was located and Dispatch confirmed the vessel owner had an active warrant for failure to appear on the FWC notice to appear citation. The individual was arrested and transported to the Okaloosa County Jail.
Officers Pifer and Corbin were dispatched to a boating accident that occurred the day before. The investigation revealed the accident involved a single vessel and a single occupant/operator in Chula Vista Bayou. The vessel’s starboard bow and stern struck a piling on a dock. The operator sustained a 1-inch-long laceration on the head. The officers located the piling/dock that the vessel struck and notified the dock’s owner of the property damage. Officer Pifer cited the operator for failure to maintain proper lookout and excessive speed.
Lieutenant Hollinhead and Officer Tison checked four subjects hog hunting with dogs late at night on the Choctawhatchee WMA. Hunting one-half hour after sunset is prohibited on the WMA. The subjects were issued warnings for the violation and provided the proper information for dates and hours to hunt on the WMA.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
While patrolling the Yellow River WMA, Officers Mullins and Roberson observed a vehicle parked on a wood line without a tag. They positioned themselves so that they would see the vehicle pull back onto the trail and conducted a traffic stop for no tag and transitioned into a resource inspection once they determined the subject had been hunting. It was discovered that the subject was hunting with a center-fire rifle during the archery/muzzle-loader season. They subject was issued a misdemeanor notice to appear for hunting with a center-fire rifle during archery/muzzle-loader season only and a warning for no tag.
While on patrol in the north end of Eglin WMA, Officer Ramos conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle that appeared to be road hunting. A strong odor of cannabis came from the driver’s window while Officer Ramos was speaking with the driver. After further questioning, the driver admitted to having a “one hitter” in his pocket and promised that was all he had. With the driver out of the vehicle, Officer Ramos continued to smell the odor of cannabis and eventually the driver admitted to having more than just the “one hitter” in his pocket. Officer Ramos recovered nearly nine grams of cannabis, four various smoking devices with cannabis residue and miscellaneous paraphernalia from the vehicle. The man was cited accordingly and given a notice to appear in court.
While on land patrol, Officer Bartlett observed a vessel being loaded onto a trailer at one of the boat ramps that accesses Basin Bayou. During a resource inspection, the owner of the vessel admitted that he was in possession of three red drum. Officer Bartlett confirmed that two of the three red drum were undersized. The individual was issued a notice to appear citation for the violations.
Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson, Jr., presented Investigator James Armstrong with a letter of commendation for his assistance with multiple investigations, including a group of residential burglaries in rural areas with stolen property valued at more than $40,000. With Investigator Armstrong’s assistance in surveillance and security and his commitment to the case, the investigation resulted in the arrest of three individuals including 17 felony charges and 4 misdemeanor charges and the recovery of $30,000 worth of stolen property including antiques, recreational items, narcotics and firearms.
While participating in a multi‑officer night-hunting detail, Officer Kinney heard a shot and quickly moved to the area. He saw a truck stopped in the middle of the road. There was no other traffic and with fields in the immediate area, he conducted a traffic stop. The driver was found to have a spotlight in his hand that was still hot to the touch and a loaded rifle and shotgun. After a short interview, the subject admitted to shining for deer and shooting at a doe and a buck during the evening. The subject was cited for the violations and the evidence was seized.
Lieutenant Walsingham and Officers Kinney and Yates assisted Washington County Sheriff’s Office in locating two lost kayakers on Holmes Creek. Approximately an hour after receiving the call, the subjects were located and taken back to the boat ramp without injury.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Lieutenant Clark coordinated with Topsail Hill Preserve State Park with an outreach event at the park. Alex Kalfin, FWC Gopher Tortoise Coordinator, presented a PowerPoint presentation and a static display for the staff, volunteers, campers and members of the surrounding communities. The main focus of the outreach event was how to identify a gopher tortoise and recognize/protect its burrow and habitat. Approximately 30 people attended.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
CITRUS AND LEVY COUNTIES
Officers Canfield and Boyer responded aboard the offshore patrol vessel Fincat to assist when a small plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico, south of Cedar Key. Soon after arriving on the scene, the officers located a piece of debris floating in the water. As the search continued, the Fincat crew and other law enforcement officers on the scene located more items that appeared to be from the plane. The search was a multi-agency effort involving the United States Coast Guard (USCG), FWC and Citrus and Levy County Sheriff’s deputies.
Officers Canfield and Peterson (SW Region) recently conducted federal fisheries patrol on the offshore patrol vessel Fincat in federal waters off Citrus County. The officers stopped several boats and documented two violations. During one stop, approximately 16 miles offshore, Officer Peterson located three mangrove snapper under the federal size limit and one under the state size limit. The operator was issued a warning for the violations. During another vessel stop approximately 20 miles offshore, Officer Peterson located seven mangrove snapper under the federal size limit. Officer Peterson issued the captain of the vessel a federal citation for the violation and the case will be forwarded to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
While conducting a boating safety and fisheries patrol in federal waters off Jacksonville, Officer Geib inspected a vessel and found one undersized black sea bass and 10 undersized vermilion snapper on board. Citations and written warnings were issued for the violations.
Lieutenant Ferguson, Officers Stanley and Troiano responded to a capsized vessel on Newnan Lake. Lieutenant Ferguson launched Officer Stanley and Troiano from the road side since the occupants had been in the water for more than 25 minutes. Within minutes, the two officers were able to locate the two men and get them on board their patrol boat. Rescue was notified and met the officers and two extremely cold men at the boat ramp. EMS observed the individuals for a short time and neither wanted to be transported. The vessel was recovered and towed to shore. Several warnings were issued and one citation for no life jackets on board. The registered owner was assisted with loading his vessel and was released.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS
Officers are continuing to work area lakes for speck and bass fishing and boating safety violations. With water temperatures still low, officers have been talking with individuals about the importance of safety gear and how quickly hypothermia can set in.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Barber attended a carnival at Doctor’s Inlet Elementary School where more than fifty children and adults were in attendance. Officer Barber instructed the attendees on what his duties are as an FWC law enforcement officer and answered questions about applicable laws and regulations.
Lieutenant Glover attended a Career Day at KinderCare preschool in Fleming Island. He described his duties as an FWC law enforcement officer and answered several questions about boating safety, fishing regulations and wildlife. There were 30 children in attendance.
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY
Investigator Corfield received an internet crimes complaint that a subject on Facebook might be selling snook. A work-up completed by FWC analysts revealed the subject was a violent felony offender wanted for violation of probation and has an extensive criminal history. The subject’s probation officer was contacted and determined he absconded from his probation approximately one year ago. Although the subject’s Facebook page indicated he lived in Kingston, Jamaica, recent videos showed him fishing from a green jon boat in the Indian River Lagoon in the Sebastian and Wabasso areas. While on water patrol south of the Wabasso Causeway, Indian River County Sheriff Deputy Mathisen observed the subject fishing, but lost sight of him. FWC Investigator Corfield responded by land and guided Deputy Mathisen to the suspect vessel who then stopped the vessel as it headed back toward the Wabasso Boat Ramp. The subject on board was the individual in question and he provided Deputy Mathisen with a false name. Back at the boat ramp, the warrant was confirmed and the subject was transported to the Indian River County Jail and booked for violation of probation.
Officer Scrambling conducted freshwater resource inspections off of Lake Griffin. In addition to multiple warnings being issued, two subjects were found to be in possession of undersized black crappie. One subject had 12 undersized fish and the other subject had three undersized fish. Lake Griffin is a fish management area and the legal size limit is 10 inches or greater. The men were cited accordingly.
Officers Jones, Barber and Lieutenant Dickson responded to a foot pursuit involving Palatka Police Department and a homicide suspect. The subject ran into a dwelling in a housing project and FWC units were used to manage the security of the scene.
While on foot patrol at the Palatka City Docks with Officer Barber and Lieutenant Dickson, Officer Jones noticed an occupied vehicle parked across multiple spaces in the public parking area. As Officer Jones walked past the vehicle, he observed that the front passenger was in the process of rolling a marijuana cigarette. Upon seeing Officer Jones, the subject tried to conceal the marijuana without success. One juvenile female was charged with possession of cannabis under 20 grams and was released to her parents.
Officers Barber and Jones were on patrol near state park property when they encountered a large party with excessive drinking and reported drug use. While on the scene, they observed a vehicle with an operator that was obviously impaired and advised the driver and the other occupants that he was not to drive away from the scene due to his condition. A short time later, while dealing with a different offense, the impaired driver was seen operating the same vehicle. Officer Barber stopped the vehicle and after completing field sobriety tasks, the driver was arrested for DUI of alcohol. His breath test results were more than twice the legal limit.
Lieutenant Dickson was in route to assist Officers Barber and Jones with a large group of people when he made contact with a vehicle that was blocking the only ingress/egress to the property. He could smell a strong odor of alcohol emitting from the vehicle. The driver was 19 years of age and was in possession of and had consumed alcoholic beverages. It was also determined that the 21-year-old passenger provided him with the alcohol. The driver of the vehicle was charged with possession of alcohol under 21 years of age and the passenger was charged with giving alcoholic beverages to a person under 21 years of age.
Officer Malicoat and K-9 Officer North were checking a remote shoreline area in New Smyrna Beach when they spotted several adults fishing from the shoreline. After observing the group and checking their catch, an adult male was subsequently issued a notice to appear for harvesting oysters within a closed area. He was also issued warnings for harvesting oysters below the minimum size limit and not being in possession of a recreational shoreline fishing license.
Officer West was patrolling a back-road bridge in the New Smyrna Beach area when he checked four adult fishermen returning to shore. One of the men was found to be in possession of more than his legal bag limit of red drum and was issued a notice to appear.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Lieutenant Wilke and Public Information Officer (PIO) Weber spoke with more than 200 Villages Charter School students. The students were studying different species of animals which the officers spoke about. The officers received handmade thank you cards from all of the students that attended.
PIO Weber and Officer Sapp attended the grand opening of the Bass Pro Shops Outpost in Daytona Beach and spoke to members of the public about the FWC, conservation and regulations. FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley, Assistant Director Eric Sutton and Northeast Regional Director Shannon Wright also attended the event. Bass Pro Shops owner Johnny Morris, as well as legendary bass fishermen Bill Dance and Roland Martin, spoke with FWC staff and officers.
Officer Birchfield responded to a call about a commercial fishing vessel keeping illegal fish in Lemon Bay. He located the vessel returning to a local boat ramp and, after conducting a resource and safety inspection, found multiple violations. A criminal citation was issued for a saltwater products license violation and warnings were issued for safety violations.
Officers Bradshaw and Salem were patrolling the waters of Charlotte Harbor, north of Matlacha Pass, when they observed a commercial fishing vessel returning to Pine Island. During a resource inspection, officers found a legal number of harvested pompano but when they began inspecting the fisherman’s nets, they discovered that they had been intentionally altered to increase their mesh size, converting otherwise legal seine nets into illegal gill nets. This particular fisherman was convicted of the same violation just over one year ago. The nets were seized as evidence and the fisherman was charged accordingly.
Officers McColgin and Hardgrove were on patrol on Pine Island when they conducted a fisheries inspection on a vessel returning to shore. When they asked the two fishermen if they caught any fish, they said “yes” and showed the officers a cooler of fish. The officers found the men to be in possession of nine red grouper (five of which were undersized) and an out-of-season triggerfish. When asked if they knew the regulations for the fish, the men said they did not. On board the vessel was a Florida Sportsman law stick which showed the regulations for the fish. One of the men admitted to catching the triggerfish, and he was issued a misdemeanor for possession during the closed season. Both men were cited for possession of over the bag limit and undersized red grouper.
Officer Hardgrove was on patrol in the area of the D&D Boat Ramp and encountered a subject as he was pulling his vessel from the water and placing it back on the trailer. After being asked, the subject stated he had two spotted sea trout and a redfish in the cooler. Upon inspection, two redfish were found in the cooler. The larger of the two redfish measured at 27 ½ inches. The subject was issued a notice to appear for possession of oversized redfish and possession over the bag limit.
While patrolling approximately one-half mile south of Burnt Store Marina, Officer Hardgrove encountered a commercial fisherman just beginning to pull in his seine nets. As the subject pulled in his nets, Officer Hardgrove confirmed that four nets had been deployed, and only one net was marked properly with his SPL number on one end. The subject was issued a notice to appear for a commercial vessel not commercially registered, nets not properly marked, kicker vessel not deployed, and several written warnings for safety violations.
Officer Hinds was dispatched to the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival in regards to a subject selling green turtle parts and shells. The subject was selling two shells and one whole turtle for $3,500. The subject advised that he had gotten the turtle and the shells in the Bahamas thirty years ago. During the interview, he advised that he knew selling the turtle and its parts was illegal, but he needed cash. Officer Hinds cited him for offering marine turtle parts for sale. The turtle and the shells were seized as evidence.
Lieutenant Wells, Investigator Freemon and Officer Smith have been working with NOAA over the last several months on two separate federal cases that the officers made while on offshore patrol. NOAA issued a $9,000 Notice of Violation (NOVA) to the owner and operator of a commercial reef fish vessel (longline vessel), for possessing more hooks than authorized in a gear limited area, and for failing to maintain finfish intact through landing ashore. On the second case, NOAA issued a $5,000 NOVA to the owner and operator of a commercial reef fish vessel for 133 pieces of shark being used as bait to catch reef fish.
While on foot patrol at the Gandy Bridge, Officer Bibeau found two individuals to be in possession of undersized mangrove snapper and sheepshead. At the conclusion of a full fisheries inspection, including their vehicle, Officer Bibeau located 13 mangrove snapper, 4 of which were undersized, and 11 undersized sheepshead. Both subjects were issued a misdemeanor citation and warnings for the fisheries violations.
While on water patrol in southern Pinellas County, Officer Bibler and Lieutenant Van Trees were conducting fisheries and boating safety inspections when they stopped a kayak fisherman. The subject was found to have a warrant for his arrest for failing to appear in court for a 2014 fisheries violation in Pasco County. The subject was arrested and booked into jail to face the charges.
Lieutenant VanTrees and Officer Bibler were on water patrol conducting fisheries and boating safety inspections near the Littrell Bridge. They later found a vessel returning from a day of fishing with two undersized red drum. The appropriate persons were cited for the criminal violations along with fishing license violations.
Officers Pulaski and Ferguson were patrolling Honeymoon Island State Park, assisting the park rangers with closing. While escorting two guests out of the park, a park ranger called for their assistance. The ranger reported an unresponsive couple who were sleeping on the beach. Officers Pulaski and Ferguson arrived on scene and made contact with the couple. After waking the individuals, the officers noticed indicators of impairment and escorted them to their vehicle. While the female was searching through her purse, attempting to locate her identification, Officer Pulaski observed an unlabeled pill bottle containing pills. Officer Pulaski inquired about the pills and the female became very possessive of the bottle, stating they were her pills and she had a prescription for them. The pills were later identified by Investigator DallaRosa as oxycodone. A subsequent search of her purse revealed other drugs without a prescription, as well as marijuana and a pipe. The male had an active warrant for violation of probation. The subjects were arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail for the violations. They also received warnings for remaining in the park after hours.
Officer Bontrager responded to a boating accident on Lake Shipp in Winter Haven. Two boats collided in the predawn hours as a local bass fishing tournament was beginning. There were a total of five people on board both boats and luckily no one was injured. The boat that was hit sustained severe damage to the motor resulting in a total loss of the motor, along with major structural damage to the boat itself. The driver of the boat that caused the collision was cited for not maintaining a proper lookout.
Lieutenant Brooks, Officers Sweat, Kobs, Smith and Wester responded to a boating accident on Lake Kissimmee. An airboat and a mud boat collided head on. Two persons were transported to the hospital with injuries. Officer Wester is conducting the investigation into the crash.
While on land patrol, Officer Carter observed a vehicle failing to maintain a single lane. During a traffic stop on the vehicle, signs of impairment were observed. Polk County Sheriff’s Office DUI unit arrived to provide back up for Officer Carter and it was determined that the operator was under the influence of alcohol. The operator was arrested and transported to the Polk County Jail.
Officer Tyer was conducting fisheries inspections at Tenoroc Fish Management Area when she observed a subject in possession of oversized black bass. Officer Tyer cited the individual and released the bass back into the water.
Officers Carter and Young were on water patrol on the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes, and saw a vessel without a boater safety sticker and conducted a vessel safety stop. While conducting the inspection, Officer Carter observed signs of impairment and conducted field sobriety tasks. The operator was arrested for BUI and transported to the Polk County Jail where he refused to provide a breath sample.
Officer Messman was on land patrol at the Williams Park Boat Ramp when he was flagged down by some individuals. The individuals informed Officer Messman they were trying to find a friend who had gone out on his vessel the previous night. Officer Messman learned the truck and trailer of the overdue boater were at the boat ramp. Officers Caldwell, Lehman, Ludtke, and Lieutenant Parisoe responded to search for the missing boater. Assistance was provided by the USCG and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. After several hours, the search was concluded when the missing boater returned to the boat ramp.
FWC officers from Polk, Highlands, Hardee, Osceola and Desoto counties responded to a brush fire off Highway 60 and County Road 630 to assist Forestry and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office with evacuating residences that were in the path of the fire. Officers were an instrumental part in protecting people and property during the three days of the fire.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS
Officers Ludtke and Caldwell participated in a targeted enforcement action plan (TEA) in south Pinellas County focusing on vessel navigation lights. During the course of the TEA, the officers discovered three red snapper on a vessel. Through interviews, one of the people on board the vessel admitted to keeping the three snapper. That individual was issued a citation for possession of red snapper during a closed season. Several other citations and warnings were issued over the course of the TEA for various boating safety and navigation lighting violations.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Local officers and FWC academy training staff conducted physical assessments for law enforcement applicants in Punta Gorda. More than 160 applicants from the southern part of the state went through the course, which included a 150-yard swim and a timed obstacle course. The applicants who successfully completed the course will move on to the interview portion of the hiring process.
Lieutenant Grover and Officer Fagan did a presentation to a group of approximately 50 sixth-graders. They had been learning about reptiles, so Officer Fagan brought in an alligator. Officer Fagan did a presentation on alligators to another local elementary school. He was able to bring in an alligator as a teaching aid.
Officers Peterson and Canamero did a presentation at a community meeting in Hernando Beach. The focus was on boating safety and regulations. It was attended by approximately 100 people.
SOUTH A REGION
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officer Toby observed an individual fishing on Lake Okeechobee near Sandcut. During a fisheries inspection, the individual provided a fraudulent name and date of birth multiple times when asked to provide a freshwater fishing license. Officer Toby determined the information was false and the individual was arrested for the misdemeanor offense of providing fraudulent identifying information to a law enforcement officer. The individual was also issued an infraction citation for no freshwater fishing license.
Officers Godward and Hankinson responded to a stolen vessel call. The investigation is ongoing and a stolen vessel report was completed. The vessel was entered into the stolen vessel data base.
ST. LUCIE COUNTY
Officers Fretwell and Arnold responded to a complaint of a subject harvesting undersized pompano. While on water patrol, they located several vessels matching the description of the suspect vessel. Several resource inspections later, the suspect vessel and subject were identified. An inspection of his fish hold revealed the subject had harvested and was in possession of 42 undersized Florida pompano. The subject was then identified as a commercial harvester. The fish were seized as evidence and the subject was cited accordingly.
Officer Payne was on foot patrol near the North Bridge in Fort Pierce when he observed several people under the bridge. He watched a single individual wading in the water and using a cast net to harvest fish. He also observed a bucket by the shoreline containing three sheepshead that all appeared to be undersized. Officer Payne called out to the subject in the water to return to shore in order to conduct a resource inspection. With the subject present, the fish were measured and confirmed to be undersized. The subject was issued a citation for the violation.
Officer Payne was on foot patrol late at night near the wall at Fisherman’s Wharf when he heard someone yell “that’s a big fish!” The subject in question was not visible at first but was eventually located, fishing with another subject at the Port of Fort Pierce. The individuals were inspected, but all they had were catfish and some legal snapper. Further investigation led to a vehicle one of the subjects had driven to the location. In the bed of the truck was a bucket with a large fish tail sticking out of it. It was an oversized redfish. The fish was seized as evidence and the subject was cited for possession of oversized redfish.
Officer Fretwell conducted a resource inspection on two males fishing south of the Melody Lane Fishing Pier from a private dock in Fort Pierce. Upon a visual inspection of their bucket containing fish, they were in possession of six undersized black drum. Black drum have a harvest slot size of 14-24 inches to possess. One subject stated that he had caught all of the fish that were in the bucket. The fish were measured for compliance, verified to be undersized and were seized as evidence. One subject was cited for possession of undersized black drum. He was also issued a warning for possession of over the bag limit of black drum as the possession limit is five fish.
Officers Deweese, Muina, Davis and Toby responded to two search-and-rescue operations on the north end of Lake Okeechobee that occurred simultaneously. The first individual had become stuck in the northeast corner of Lake Okeechobee. The second individual was reported missing in the northwest corner of Lake Okeechobee. Both individuals were reported to have a history of health issues. After extensive efforts by all officers, both individuals were located in good health and taken to the local boat ramp.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
While on a vessel stop, Officer Godward was informing a captain how important life jackets were for everyone on board. He then noticed water on the cabin floor of the vessel. Even though the captain informed him it was fine, Officer Godward stayed to make sure the vessel started and got under way. When the captain lifted the hatch to the inboard, it was half submerged in water. The three small children and a woman were transferred onto his patrol vessel. The vessel was then tied to the patrol boat as Officer Godward headed toward the closest boat ramp. Tow Boat US was called and was able to place a pump on the vessel while underway to keep the vessel afloat until they reached the dock.
Officers Warensford, Mclendon, Spradling and Morrow responded to the J.W. Corbett WMA in reference to a search and rescue. Officer Warensford made contact with a subject by cell phone who advised he was stuck in his vehicle in the Corbett WMA and did not know his location. The subject also advised that he had his wife and three children (one an infant) with him at that time. Dispatch advised all of the responding officers that the cell phone ping, provided by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, was in the area of Trail 11. Officers Warensford and Mclendon responded to the area with negative results. Officer Warensford was able to again make contact with the subject who advised he was unable to hear FWC sirens or horns in attempts to locate their position. He also advised Officer Warensford that the last sign he remembered passing was for Camp H. All officers involved agreed his position was most likely near Trail 8. All officers involved responded to the area and located the subject approximately 300 yards off the trail, north of Trail 8. The subject advised his wife and three children were all fine with no reported injuries. The towing company was contacted and guided to the location, and the family made it out safely.
MAJOR WILDLIFE ASSISTANCE
PALM BEACH COUNTY
While on manatee patrol, Officer Godward helped the manatee biologists locate a dead manatee. He took pictures of the wounds and GPS points to help them locate the animal.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officers Stone, Payne, Leblanc and Morrow assisted with a Becoming an Outdoors Woman seminar at the JW Corbett WMA. During the three-day event, the officers instructed participants on archery, firearms, hunter safety, hunting basics, and reading the woods. Approximately 80 women of all ages were in attendance and they had the opportunity to learn and experience a variety of outdoor skills.