Officer Palmer was working late one evening near a hunting lease. Well after sunset, he observed a vehicle enter the hunting lease. After a brief time, several shots could be heard from inside the private property in the direction that the vehicle was last seen. Several minutes later, the same vehicle exited the hunting lease and started to leave the area. A stop of the vehicle was conducted. Fresh blood was on the tailgate and rear bumper of the vehicle. Inside the bed of the truck was a freshly killed doe. The doe showed signs of being shot with a centerfire rifle. Officer Palmer issued appropriate citations for the violations.
Officer Baber responded to a call from the county Sheriff’s Department in which one of their officers stopped a vehicle shining a light at a farm field. When Officer Baber arrived on scene, he searched the vehicle and located a loaded .22 caliber rifle along with a spotlight. The driver was charged with night hunting.
Officer Baber was conducting surveillance on a farm field when a truck drove by shining the field with a spotlight. A vehicle stop was conducted and inside the vehicle, the driver had a spotlight hooked to a battery in the passenger floorboard and a crossbow in the passenger seat. The suspect was charged with night hunting.
While aboard the offshore patrol vessel Vigilance, Officers Rockwell and Trueblood teamed up with Officers Brady and Rice aboard the 29 Safe Boat to target offshore federal fisheries. While patrolling in the Madison & Swanson Marine Protection Area (MPA), an area closed to bottom fishing, they observed a recreational vessel fishing several miles within the closed area. As both vessels approached, they noticed that the three occupants were still fishing with bottom style rigs. During the boarding, Officer Trueblood found the subjects to be in possession of reef fish, including red snapper, which was currently closed. All individuals were cited for fishing in an MPA closed to fishing. The captain was also cited for possession of red snapper during closed season and for no vessel registration onboard.
Officer Nelson participated in an offshore, multi-day research expedition with Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) Biologists Gray, Cook, Kampmann, Staley and Brown. The study focused on the reproductive health of gag grouper in the Gulf of Mexico MPA. During the expedition, they collected blood, liver, fin, age and other biological samples and recorded the size and weight of gag grouper. During the research expedition, approximately 30 fish were tagged and released. Two fish that were previously tagged were recaptured. Data collected during the trip will further efforts of FWRI staff to better understand the reproductive characteristics of the gag grouper population in the Gulf of Mexico. After the trip, 84 pounds of fish were donated to the Food4Kidz charity.
Officer Forehand located a small field that was baited with cracked corn. The following afternoon, he heard shooting at the field. He observed four hunters shooting doves over the baited field. All four hunters were charged with taking doves over bait.
Officer Little inspected a hunter in the upper Chipola Wildlife Management Area (WMA). During the inspection, the hunter asked for directions to the Apalachee WMA. Officer Little gave directions and explained legal antler requirements for that management area. The hunter stated that he knew the law. Later that afternoon, the check station operator at Apalachee called Officer Little about an illegal deer that had been shot. When Officer Little arrived, the same hunter he inspected earlier in the day had killed a four‑point buck. He was charged with taking deer with less than three points on one side.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Lieutenant Huff was working opening day of general gun season in the Osceola WMA when he heard a gunshot. After locating the subject, he admitted to shooting at a four-point buck but did not think he had hit it. Lieutenant Huff advised the subject that he more than likely hit the deer since he was using a shotgun. After Lieutenant Huff stated he would attempt to locate the deer, the subject became nervous. While walking back to Lieutenant Huff’s truck, the subject stated there were two deer and they both ran off. K-9 Officer Gill and Officer Tyler responded to assist. K-9 Friar was deployed on the subject’s path to their hunting area and immediately found the spent shell casing from the subject’s shotgun. K-9 Friar also located a small doe 30-yards from the subject’s stand. While K-9 Friar was looking for another deer, the subject admitted to Lieutenant Huff that he shot the doe and that was the only deer. He went on to state he was not truthful because he was nervous and did not think the officers would look for the deer. The subject was cited for taking an illegal doe deer. The shotgun was seized as evidence.
Citrus County officers and Officers VanNess and Cheshire were working a Targeted Enforcement Action (TEA) targeting the harvest of oysters. During the detail, the officers set up surveillance around Ozello. While conducting surveillance, the officers observed several boats in the area harvesting oysters. The area was currently open to the harvest of oysters and no vessels were observed in any closed areas. The officers conducted a compliance inspection on two commercial harvesters and found they were in possession of 18% undersized oysters. The harvesters are allowed 5% undersized per bag. The two commercial oyster harvesters were cited appropriately.
Officer Browning was on water patrol around the Little Homosassa River and observed a commercial blue crabber working a line of traps in Homosassa Bay. During a gear inspection, the officer observed that the occupants had 15 whole bodied stone crabs in a catch basket on their boat. Officer Browning asked why they had the stone crabs when the season was not open for five more days. The occupants said they were going to place the crabs in a trap and harvest them after the open date for them to possess the crabs. The vessel occupants were issued a citation to pay $318.00 or appear in county court. The crabs were released back to the water.
Officer Browning was working the oyster harvest area when he observed three boats actively harvesting oysters. Officer Browning approached the harvesters and conducted a compliance inspection on their oysters. During the inspection, Officer Browning discovered that the occupants had 14% undersized oysters in a tagged bag of oysters. The vessel occupants were issued a notice to appear in county court. The undersized oysters were photographed and returned to an active oyster bar nearby.
Captive Wildlife Investigator Doricchi went to conduct a follow-up inspection at a facility which exhibits venomous reptiles and sells other various non-regulated reptiles. While conducting the follow-up, it was learned that the licensee still had expired venomous reptile licenses as well as expired Class III wildlife ESC license. The licensee was issued a citation for the expired licenses and a warning for a sanitation issue.
A Resource Protection Unit (RPU) Officer was working an area of Jennings WMA where complaints of gunshots had been received. As the officer eased around a corner in an unmarked truck at sunrise, a poacher was spotted sitting on a stool near a fire break. When the poacher spotted the truck he stood up, grabbed his stool and dove into the woods. The officer approached the spot and noticed the poacher tangled up in green briar vines. He helped to extricate the man from the thorns and retrieved a .308 hunting rifle that had been tossed into the woods. The man admitted to hunting in the closed forest with a rifle in an area that is restricted to archery hunting. He was issued citations and warnings for the violations.
Officers Sweat and Christmas investigated information on the illegal take of deer and trespassing. A man went onto a property without permission and shot a spike buck. The owner of the property had three game cameras setup on the property. The trespasser located two of them and took the photo cards from the camera. On the third camera, a photo of the violator was taken as he dragged the illegal buck away from the property. He posted his illegal take on Instagram, with comments. Along with the other violations, the hunter did not possess a hunting license or a deer permit. Charges will be filed with the State Attorney’s Office.
Officers Schulz and Willis received a call referencing a commercial fisherman that was actively harvesting oysters from a closed area. Once they arrived on scene, they observed a white vessel with one subject onboard harvesting oysters just inside of closed waters. The officers watched the subject harvest for a brief period until the subject started to pack up and leave the area. The officers waded out on to an exposed oyster bar and stopped the vessel for a commercial fisheries inspection. There were 14 baskets of oysters and a culling board filled with oysters aboard the vessel. During the inspection, the officers also noted two other oyster violations. Based on the totality of circumstances, Officer Schulz issued one misdemeanor citation and two warnings for the oyster violations. All oysters were seized and returned to the resource alive. No further law enforcement action was taken.
Officer Schulz was on patrol at the Cedar Key boat ramp when he observed a recreational fishing vessel approach the boat ramp to load up. Officer Schulz contacted the two subjects onboard to perform a fisheries inspection. During the inspection, three boating safety violations were observed and three undersized spotted sea trout and one undersized black sea bass were located. The captain of the vessel was cited appropriately.
Lieutenant Humphries and Officer Cline were working a closed area in Twin Rivers WMA when they observed a truck parked on a closed road within the area. Further observation revealed two subjects exiting the woods carrying firearms and dragging a freshly killed deer. The subjects were interviewed and admitted to killing the deer while hunting in a closed area. The subjects were issued the appropriate citations for the violations.
Officers Wilder and Robson responded to a residence where a deer had been taken illegally during muzzleloader gun season. During the investigation, the officers learned that a subject spotted a 7-point buck outside his residence and, from his back porch, shot the deer. The deer was on his neighbor’s property. The subject then requested help from family members to retrieve the deer. The subject was cited for taking deer by illegal method and trespassing.
Officer Albritton received information from a concerned citizen of a possible wildlife violation that occurred October 15th. During the investigation, the officer learned that an 8-point buck had been taken from the right of way. A subject was driving and spotted the deer on the shoulder of the road. He then called a friend requesting a gun. He went to the friend’s home and retrieved him and his gun. They returned to the location where the deer was seen. They shot the deer from the vehicle and returned home with it. The gun and antlers were seized as evidence. Charges of taking deer by illegal method and hunting from the right of way are being direct filed with the State Attorney’s Office.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Boone and Colasanti attended a local community neighborhood watch luncheon. During this program, both officers answered questions from the attendees giving information to better prevent violations of fish and wildlife state laws from occurring in their neighborhood. They were also thanked for the agency’s recent efforts during the flooding from Hurricane Irma.
While on patrol, Lieutenant Lightsey observed a man he had previously arrested earlier in the year driving down the roadway. The man had an active warrant for resource violations in Indian River County. The officer stopped and approached the man. After informing him of the warrant, the man was arrested and delivered to the county Sherriff’s Office without incident.
Officers conducted focused patrols of Critical Wildlife Areas (CWA) in the Indian River Lagoon and at the Stick Marsh. Officers spoke with boaters and wildlife viewers concerning the CWA boundaries and purpose.
While on foot patrol at a local causeway, Officer Balgo observed an individual fishing along the shoreline. The individual stated he did not have any fish. After further inspection, Officer Balgo located one undersized red drum, one undersized spotted sea trout and one undersized mangrove snapper. The individual was cited accordingly.
On opening morning of rifle season in the Ocala WMA, Officer Rice was working in the Paisley area when he heard gunshots near his location. Officer Rice located a group hunting with dogs in the area the shots came from. The officer heard an additional shot and observed two hunters walk out of the woods with their dogs. Officer Rice approached the hunters. One hunter admitted to taking a deer. The deer that was taken was a spike less than the legal 10” antler length required. The hunter admitted to not identifying what the deer was before he took it and was issued a notice to appear for the violation.
Officers Balfour and Phillips located a suspicious vehicle with a dog-box parked in a secluded area in Richloam WMA on the Green Swamp fence line. From the contents in the vehicle, it appeared the subjects were hunting, but no one was around the vehicle. Officers Balfour and Phillips waited at the vehicle in a concealed location. At approximately 2:30 AM, Officer Phillips observed a light coming down the fence line in their direction. Contact was made with three male subjects and five hunting dogs. All three subjects admitted to hog hunting in Green Swamp West and Richloam WMA. They were issued citations for hunting hogs during closed season, illegal entry into a WMA and for the dogs being off leash.
While on patrol off Highway 42 in Paisley, Officers Teal and McConnel saw a large buck in the pasture. They placed their patrol vehicle in a concealed manner to watch the field. Within minutes, a truck pulled up, turned around, shining their headlights in the field and shot towards the buck. The truck, occupied by two subjects, turned on their hazards to act like they had broken down. The subjects went to look for the deer, but were unable to locate it. They started to leave the area when Officers Teal and McConnel stopped the vehicle. Next to the passenger was a loaded shotgun containing buck shot. Post Miranda warnings, both subjects admitted to attempting to take deer by gun at night, shooting from the roadway and attempting to take wildlife from the right of way. Both suspects were cited appropriately.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Lieutenant Chase and Officer Scrambling attended the City of Leesburg National Night Out. There were over 3,000 individuals in attendance. The event was well received.
Lieutenant Chase and Officer Shaw attended the local Farm Bureau’s Farm Day. There were over 100 in attendance. The event was well received.
While on patrol at Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, Officer Martinez stopped two individuals returning from fishing. Upon inspecting their catch, it was determined one of the subjects had an undersized gag grouper. The subject was run for previous history of violations. Officer Martinez determined that the subject had numerous violations in the past. The subject was cited for possession of undersized gag grouper.
Officer Winton was on patrol in Matlacha when he witnessed several individuals fishing from the shore. Officer Winton approached the group and determined that one of the fisherman was in possession of five undersized mangrove snapper. A notice to appear was issued for the violation, as well as a warning for failure to have a fishing license.
Officer Winton was on water patrol in Pine Island Sound when he saw a commercial net fishing vessel actively working several seine nets. Officer Winton conducted a stop on the vessel, at which time several violations were discovered. The captain of the vessel was issued several citations, as well as numerous warnings, and was educated about laws pertaining to seine nets.
Lieutenant Ruggiero completed a court case for a BUI arrest he made. Working with the State Attorney’s Office, the case was resolved before going to trial. The suspect was adjudicated guilty for the violation. The suspect was issued $500 in court costs, $500 for refusal to submit to his breath alcohol content and 50 hours of community service among other requirements as part of his sentencing.
While on land patrol around the South Skyway rest area, Officers Hinds and Gonzales stopped and performed a fisheries inspection on a group of men fishing under the relief bridge just before the main fishing pier. Upon completion of their inspection, the officers found that one of the men had caught and kept over his bag limit of pompano. The subject was issued a criminal citation for his violation and will have to appear in court.
While on land patrol around the South Skyway rest area, Officers Hinds and Miller stopped and performed a fisheries inspection on a group of men fishing under the relief bridge just before the main fishing pier. Upon completion of their inspection, the officers found that one of the men had caught and kept over the bag limit of grey mangrove snapper. The subject was issued a criminal citation for his violation and will have to appear in court.
While on land patrol around the South Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, Officer Gonzales was waived down by a fisherman who made him aware of some potential poaching by a group of men on the pier. Officer Gonzales located the potential violators and performed a fisheries inspection. Upon completion of the inspection, Officer Gonzales found that one of the men had caught and kept 19 Spanish mackerel. The subject was cited criminally for possession of over the bag limit of Spanish mackerel and will have to appear in court for his violation.
While on patrol, Officer Caldwell observed three individuals fishing from a bridge and initiated a fisheries inspection. The individuals stated they just started fishing and allowed the officer to inspect two empty coolers. Officer Caldwell observed a third small cooler near the three individuals. Inside the cooler were four undersized gag grouper and seven mangrove snapper. The three individuals stated the cooler belonged to someone who had been fishing on the bridge and left. Officer Caldwell observed a piece of blue braided fishing line inside the cooler with the undersized fish. He saw one of the fishing poles, used by one of the men on the bridge, had the same fishing line. Officer Caldwell confronted the individuals with this information. The man with the matching fishing line admitted to catching the undersized fish. He was cited accordingly.
While on land patrol near the Skyway relief bridge, Officer Martinez approached a subject to conduct a resource inspection. Upon seeing Officer Martinez, the subject tried to get rid of the fish by throwing them back in the water. Officer Martinez stopped the subject and found him to be in possession of a 12” gag grouper and two undersized mangrove snapper. Officer Martinez cited the subject for possession of undersized gag grouper and warned him for the snapper violation.
While on land patrol at Gandy beach, Officer Martinez observed a subject conceal numerous fish in a grocery bag and hide them under the driver seat of his vehicle. When Officer Martinez made contact, the subject attempted to close the door of his vehicle so the officer couldn’t find the concealed fish. Officer Martinez informed the subject that he seen him hide the fish, and to go ahead and bring them out. Upon inspecting the bag, Officer Martinez located four undersized mangrove snapper, almost his entire bag limit. The subject was cited accordingly for his violation.
While on land patrol, Officer Martinez observed a man walking briskly out of the mangroves with a cooler. When approached, he asked him if he had caught any fish. The man responded that he did not and pulled a bag out of the cooler and hid it out of view. Officer Martinez attempted to conduct a resource inspection and, several times, was obstructed by the man. He found that the subject was in possession of two undersized snook. The subject advised Officer Martinez that he had caught the fish with a cast net and was unsure of what they were. The subject was cited accordingly.
While on land patrol near Blind Pass, Officer Bibeau approached two subjects that were fishing from the seawall to conduct a fisheries inspection. After the inspection, Officer Bibeau found the subjects to be in possession of an undersized gag grouper and two undersized spotted seatrout. One subject admitted to catching the undersized fish. Officer Bibeau wrote the subject a misdemeanor citation and a warning for the fisheries violations.
Captive Wildlife Investigator Hough and Lieutenant DeLacure found an individual in possession of two unlawfully possessed Class II African Servals. The two servals were seized and placed at a licensed facility. Charges were filed for unlawful possession of Class II Serval, failure to meet minimum standard caging requirements and failure to obtain a valid import permit.
SOUTH REGION A
Captive Wildlife Investigator Corteguera responded to a complaint regarding the illegal possession of a reticulated python. After contacting the individual, the investigator found a juvenile in possession of a juvenile reticulated python. The violation was discussed with the juvenile and his parents, and several warnings were issued regarding the illegal possession and related violations. The snake was seized and turned over to an agency biologist. The source of where the snake came from originally is being investigated.
Officer Brock responded to Pompano Beach in the early morning hours referencing a report of a boating accident. A vessel was involved in property damage. An investigation into the boating accident is ongoing.
Officers Grant and Brock and Lieutenant Laubenberger conducted a marine fisheries inspection in the early morning hours. An individual onboard was found to be in possession of undersized mutton snapper. The individual was issued a citation and the fish was seized as evidence.
Officer Vacin was on late night patrol when he observed several individuals fishing from the beach near Sunrise Blvd. Pursuant to a marine fisheries inspection, one individual was issued a criminal citation for possession of undersized mangrove snapper. The mangrove snapper were released back into the water alive.
Officers Webb and Pecko were conducting land patrol and observed a truck with a trailer parked in an area that caused suspicion. After checking the tag information, the officers discovered that the truck was owned by a convicted felon. The subjects came back at dark and the felon was in possession of a firearm. The subject was arrested and charged accordingly.
Officers Hankinson and Pecko were conducting state water patrol when they observed two subjects fishing in a boat. They initiated a vessel stop and found that there was no safety equipment on board. There was a cooler on the piling of the bridge that the subjects said had some fish in it. Officer Pecko discovered an undersized mangrove snapper. The operator was cited for no Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) and the second subject was given a warning for undersized mangrove snapper.
ST. LUCIE COUNTY
A suspicious vehicle was observed parked near the Port of Fort Pierce with a single occupant. The vehicle had been observed at the same location on multiple days. Further investigation determined the vehicle would leave the area for a brief period and then return and remain for an extended period. Investigator Patterson and Officers Fretwell and Payne decided to conduct surveillance on the vehicle and occupant. From a concealed location, Investigator Patterson observed the subject light an object near his face, but it did not look like a cigarette. When the officers began to approach the vehicle, Investigator Patterson observed the subject make some abrupt motions. After making contact, the subject appeared impaired. A search of the vehicle revealed a pipe and crack cocaine in a bucket on the passenger side floorboard and marijuana in the trunk. The subject was arrested and charged for the violations.
MAJOR WILDLIFE ASSISTANCE
Officer Grant responded to a house referencing a loose snake. She arrived on scene and found a black racer entangled in tape in the homeowner’s garage. The officer freed the snake of entanglement and released it into the Everglades unharmed.
Officer Grant was on patrol at Dania Pier when she observed a cormorant tangled in fishing line. With the assistance of a fisherman, and the use of his net, the officer caught the bird, untangled the fishing line and cut it off the bird. The cormorant was released unharmed.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officers responded to a young sperm whale stranded in Juno Beach. Multiple agencies responded and attempted to assist the sick female whale.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Numerous officers gathered at two memorial sites. The L-5 Memorial for Officers Randall and Burnsed and the Manley Ditch for Officer Lawless. These Officers were killed at these locations in the Everglades. Officers honored the fallen with the laying of wreaths, a moment of silence and rendered a salute during the playing of taps. This was the 10th Anniversary of Officer Lawless’ death and the 16th Anniversary of Officers Randall and Burnsed.
Lieutenant Laubenberger commanded the Broward Police Multi Agency Honor Guard Colors Team during the ceremony for the Broward Victims of Violence awards ceremony.
Lieutenant Laubenberger commanded the Broward Police Multi Agency Honor Guard Colors Team during the ceremony for the Police Accreditation Coalition in Weston.
Lieutenant Laubenberger commanded the Honor Guard Colors Team during the ceremony for the Police Accreditation Coalition in Weston.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officer Hankinson, Officer Pecko, Lieutenant Russo, Lieutenant Hayes and Major Rondeau provided security for Governor Scott’s press conference at the Cheney Brothers Warehouse.
ST. LUCIE COUNTY
Officers participated with three other agencies in “Operation Safe Passage” in the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. They searched an 18-mile stretch of the river, finding and removing fallen trees and other hurricane related debris. Over 100 large trees were removed or identified for removal.
SOUTH REGION B
Officers Plussa and Knutson were assisting with an evidence seizure for a subject arrested for multiple trap violations. Officer Plussa recognized the suspect in Monroe County. Officer Plussa found that three citations for this subject had been returned undeliverable for three different addresses. The suspect admitted to owning the derelict vessels in the Keys and that he had been living on Marco Island for the last seven months. Officer Plussa served him the three unclaimed Monroe citations and criminally charged him with failure to transfer interest or address on vessel registration. Additional charges are pending for the subject in Monroe County with Lieutenant Cox.
While on water patrol just south of Julia Tuttle causeway, an officer noticed a red PWC anchored in the bay with two males onboard fishing using yoyos. Upon conducting a fisheries inspection, they opened a blue cooler in the back of the jet ski that contained fourteen spotted sea trout, eleven of which were undersized. Their bag limit was four per person. Both subjects admitted to catching the fish together. They were cited appropriately for the violation.
A United States Coast Guard (USCG) helicopter was following a vessel of interest approximately 5 miles offshore the Bakers Haulover Inlet in which the subjects believed to be involved with human smuggling and/or narcotics. The USCG requested agency assistance to further investigate the vessel that had two visible persons onboard. An officer in the area located the vessel around the ICW and Sunny Isles Bridge. The vessel had a registration number violation, so the officer conducted a vessel stop. Upon speaking to the captain of the vessel, the subjects claimed to be trying out the vessel. The officer was not convinced and waited for assistance from CBP. CBP determined the captain entered illegally and he was also illegally bringing in the other passenger. The captain was arrested for human smuggling and the passenger was taken into custody for processing.
MAJOR WILDLIFE ASSISTANCE
Officer Plussa responded to an overnight callout involving a 10-foot alligator that had entered a residential garage and was damaging property. Officer Plussa and Nuisance Alligator Trapper Ray Simonsen responded to the residence to find a crowd of people and several local deputies in the street and driveway. Officer Plussa cleared the area with the deputies and assisted the trapper in removing the 8.5-foot alligator and securing it for safe removal from the scene
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Mobley, Powell, Rhoda, Carroll and Alvarez all participated in the Taste of the Islands Festival in Marathon. All officers educated the public on boating safety, living with alligators and answered questions regarding post hurricane response. Members of the public were also educated on exotic reptiles as pets and the importance of not releasing them into the wild to prevent ecosystem damage, much like the Burmese python epidemic. Officers also had an alligator and python for hands-on interaction with children and adults. The event was from 11:00 am-5:00 pm, and officers spoke to over 100 individuals.
Officers Jason, Jefferson and Carroll conducted public outreach and support by participating in the Veterans Day Parade in Marathon. During the event, officers spoke with local veterans of all generations, hearing their stories and giving thanks for their service and sacrifices. The officers showed appreciation to first responders for their continued service, as well as members of the community for their strong efforts in helping to bring the community back from the brink in the wake of Hurricane Irma.