Officer Allgood worked fisheries enforcement in the Pensacola Bay area and identified several individuals in violation. He issued notice to appear citations for possession of red snapper in a closed season and possession of undersized scamp and mangrove snapper. Officer Allgood also documented license and boating safety violations.


Officer Allgood entered a hunt camp and noticed the remains of a doe deer hanging on a skinning rack. The deer had already been cleaned and appeared to be an antlerless deer. Antlerless deer season is not open and to take an antlerless deer legally it must be tagged before moving it from the field. When the two hunters noticed Officer Allgood, they attempted to tag the antlerless deer. The deer was killed several hours prior and had not been tagged. Officer Allgood issued a citation for failing to tag an antlerless deer.




Officers Cushing, Land and Wilkenson were on water patrol in federal waters aboard the offshore patrol vessel NW Fincat. While patrolling approximately 30 miles south of Perdido Key in the Gulf of Mexico, they approached a large charter vessel and observed items being thrown overboard. Once onboard, Officers Land and Wilkenson discovered several violations inside the cooking grill located on deck and in the freezer. Officer Land found cooked gray triggerfish fillets (closed season) and red snapper fillets inside the grill. They also discovered a gray triggerfish in whole condition in a catch basket on deck as well as two one-gallon bags of fresh red snapper fillets (not frozen) in the freezer. In addition, the captain did not possess a current federal charter permit. Officer Land issued a federal citation for the violations.




Lieutenant Allen and Officer Hellett were working a net detail and observed a truck that was stuck in the sand near their location. The subject approached the officers and asked if the officers could pull him out. Officers stated they were not permitted and the subject stated that he will just wait for another truck to come by to pull him out. The officers asked what he was doing in the area and the subject stated that he was checking his trail cameras. The officers then proceeded on with their net detail. Being an avid hunter, Officer Hellett thought it unusual that the subject was checking trail cameras that early in the morning. Later that morning, the officers returned to the area where the subject’s truck had been stuck and noticed fresh blood on the ground. An investigation revealed that the subject was suspected of trespassing on another hunting lease and of stealing trail cameras and poaching deer. During an interview, the subject confessed to killing a deer at night and stealing trail cameras. They recovered a buck deer head, flashlight, rifle, two SD cards and a trail camera from the subject’s truck. Lieutenant Allen also recovered a deer carcass, with a missing head, in the woods near the location where the subject’s truck was stuck. The subject decided to hand over three other trail cameras that he had stolen from another hunting lease. Appropriate charges will be filed with the State Attorney’s Office.




After receiving complaints about permanent duck blinds on lakes in Leon and Jefferson Counties, Officers Pekerol, Brookes and Korade, along with Investigator Bryant and Lieutenant Wass de Czege worked diligently to address the issue. Prior to the opening weekend of the regular duck season, officers documented more than 35 permanent duck blinds on area lakes. During the first two days of the season, officers issued four citations and two warnings for hunting from permanent duck blinds, along with one citation for a motor violation on Lake Iamonia. Other citations and warnings were issued for license and boating safety violations.




The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) and Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) requested assistance regarding a manhunt. FHP attempted to stop a vehicle for excessive speed, but the driver sped off to elude the trooper. In a short distance, the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed at General Bond and Highway 85. The driver exited the vehicle and retreated into Eglin’s reservation. Due to geographical knowledge of the area, having trucks with 4-wheel drive and aviation, officers aided in the search of the fleeing felon. OCSO, Eglin security personnel and seven officers formed a triangle barrier around the thick wooded area where the subject entered. With the aid of the Department of Corrections (FDC) K-9 unit, the subject was apprehended 3½ hours later. During the search, the FDC K-9 unit found where the subject cut off his GPS monitoring ankle device. Furthermore, there were two firearms in the vehicle, along with burglary tools. The subject’s criminal history was lengthy and included violent acts.




Officer Lewis located a food plot that had been planted on Blackwater River State Forest adjacent to a section of private property. When asked, a man hunting near the food plot admitted to planting it. The subject was issued multiple citations for planting the food plot on the management area.


Officer Lewis observed a pickup on the side of the road that appeared to be disabled and stopped to assist. While talking to the occupants, the officer learned that one of them had killed a doe deer, which was in a cooler in the bed of the pickup. Stories differed regarding the location where the deer was killed and the shooter could not remember where it was taken. The subject that killed the deer claimed he killed it in Alabama but had not checked it in as required by Alabama regulations. Officer Lewis contacted an Alabama game warden, and met him at the state line. The suspect showed the officers the deer carcass in Alabama, but claimed that he could not remember where it was taken. The Alabama officer charged the subject for not filling out his harvest report.


Officer Land was on the Escambia River when he observed three subjects on a boat heading under power toward a flock of coots. When the boat flushed the coots, one of the hunters fired at them before the boat stopped moving. Officer Land contacted Lieutenant Hahr who located the hunters as they were leaving a nearby boat ramp. The subjects admitted to trying to shoot the coots from the moving boat. Upon inspection, the officers found that the subject observed shooting was using lead shot and a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells. The one subject was issued a citation for attempting to take waterfowl from a vessel under power and with lead shot.


Lieutenant Berryman was patrolling the Escribano Point Wildlife Management Area (WMA) when he encountered four individuals camping at the Bayou Campground. While speaking with these individuals, he learned that they did not possess a camping permit for the campground and observed several beer cans that had been discarded on the ground and open containers of beer within their vehicles. Additionally, it was found that none of the four individuals possessed a valid driver’s license and that one of the vehicle’s registration tag was expired and was ordered by the court to be seized. All four subjects appeared to be nervous and were acting very suspiciously. Officer Land arrived to assist and requested a K-9 unit from the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s deputy arrived and worked his police canine around the vehicles and the subjects’ tent that had been set up in a non-designated camping area. The canine showed a positive alert on both vehicles and the tent for narcotics. A search of both vehicles revealed marijuana, methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia. The owners of both vehicles and the tent were placed under arrest by Officer Land and transported to the county jail. Both vehicles were towed and the tent was seized for safe keeping until a search warrant could be obtained to search it and its contents. The other two individuals were given a ride to a local motel.




During duck season, Officer Nelson and Federal Refuge Officer Lord received information that several subjects were hunting in the portion of the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge closed to hunting. Officers Lord and Nelson launched a vessel and located the individuals who had harvested several redhead ducks inside the closed area. The subjects were issued the appropriate citations for hunting in the closed area.






Officers responded to a distress call from three hunters who swamped their boat while preparing to duck hunt in Escambia Bay. The three young hunters ran out of gas about four miles from the boat ramp and drifted away from the shoreline. They had a friend bring them gas, but they were unable to start the motor once they filled the tank. By this time, they had drifted out into the bay and strong north winds had created a stiff chop. They attempted to anchor the boat using a heavy lead anchor, but improperly tied the rope off to the stern. The boat quickly took on water and swamped. Luckily, the three young adults donned their life jackets and began to swim to shore in the freezing air temperature. One of them had a waterproof case on his phone and called 911 while swimming. Avalon Fire Rescue located the hunters and pulled them from the water. Officers located the boat and recovered it along with the hunters’ shotguns and most of their belongings. The hunters were treated at the hospital for hypothermia and released.




Officer Corbin and Investigator Armstrong responded to a search and rescue in the Choctawhatchee River area near Smokehouse Landing in Freeport. The report stated a 70-year-old man was operating his 18-foot vessel in a slough off the river when the boat became stuck on a log. The operator was by himself with no cellular phone service. The operator provided GPS coordinates to dispatch. The officers launched a vessel and, with the GPS coordinates, located the man quickly. The officers freed the man’s vessel from the log and ensured his safe arrival back to the boat ramp.






Officers J. Rockwell, Brooks and P. Rockwell attended an outreach event at Crestview High School. The officers addressed approximately 60 students and spoke about the job of an officer and how they use different vehicles and vessels to patrol their areas. The officers brought for display two marked patrol vessels, one 26-foot and the other 16-foot, and an ATV used to patrol rough terrain.




Officers teamed up with staff from the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation to work the Blackwater Family Hunt. The hunt was an enormous success as the hunters enjoyed beautiful weather and saw lots of deer movement. The hunters harvested 18 deer over the weekend and used 43 of the issued permits. Several of the young hunters won donated door prizes including two firearms and a double ladder stand. It was a wonderful experience for all that participated.









Officer Drew observed a vehicle being operated in Mallory Swamp WMA after hours. Further investigation revealed that the operator of the vehicle had no exclusive use permit and was driving with a permanently revoked driver’s license for driving under the influence (DUI) manslaughter. The operator was arrested and delivered to the county jail for driving while license was permanently revoked.




Officer Ransom received information from a local landowner of two individuals trespassing on his property. Further investigation revealed the identity of the two individuals and their attempt to shoot a doe deer. The rifle used was seized and the appropriate charges will be filed with the state attorney for prosecution.









While performing vessel inspections in Port Canaveral, Officer Balgo encountered a vessel with numerous fishery and boating safety violations. Two undersized mutton snapper, one undersized black grouper, and one undersized mangrove snapper were located onboard the vessel. The vessel owner/operator was issued several citations for the violations.


Officer Rasey received a Wildlife Alert call about subjects taking over the bag limit of oversized black drum in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and located a truck matching the description of the possible suspected vehicle and subject. An inspection of a cooler in the truck bed revealed only alcoholic beverages. Next to the cooler was a blanket which contained three black drum hidden beneath it. All fish measured over 30 inches in length. The subject received a citation for possession of more than one black drum greater than 24 inches.


Officer Cybula received a complaint of anglers taking oversized redfish from Sebastian Inlet’s north jetty. Once in the area, the officer began conducting resource inspections. One subject was found to be in possession of an oversized redfish and was issued a citation.




Officer Scrambling was on patrol at the Buzzard Beach boat ramp at Lake Eustis and observed two subjects using cast nets to catch game fish. He conducted a resource inspection and found six small panfish, one largemouth bass, one turtle and shiners in their containers. Both subjects were cited for the violations of catching freshwater game fish by illegal method.




Officer Hadwin was patrolling Hal Scott Preserve when he observed a vehicle parked outside of a locked gate where vehicles are not typically parked. After speaking with some nearby fishermen, he determined the vehicle owner had not been in the area recently but had been parked there for a few hours. Shortly after sunset, two subjects were seen exiting the property. Both subjects were in full camouflage and had climber tree stands. One hunter had a rifle and the other had a compound bow. Both subjects were issued citations for hunting in closed area.




Officer Sapp located a tree stand that had corn scattered in front of it on Tiger Bay WMA. The following morning, a hunter, wearing full camo, was in the stand deer hunting over the bait. The hunter admitted to placing the bait and said he knew it was against the law. He was issued citations for hunting over bait in a WMA and not wearing hunter orange.









Lieutenant Spoede and Officers Winton and Hazelwood conducted an offshore patrol on the SAFE patrol vessel. During the patrol, multiple commercial and recreational vessels were stopped and checked for compliance. Violations included lobsters not in whole condition, undersized snapper, over the bag limit of cobia, charter fishing violations, fishing license violations and boater safety violations. Multiple notices to appear, resource and boating citations, and boating and resource warnings were issued.


Lieutenant Spoede and Officers Winton and Hazelwood were on water patrol near Punta Rassa Cove when they saw a commercial blue crab vessel actively pulling traps. A vessel stop was conducted, at which time it was determined that the vessel was not properly marked with the endorsement number of the traps being pulled. A history check revealed that the vessel captain had an extensive history of citations and warnings, including marking violations. The captain was issued a notice to appear for the marking violation, as well as multiple warnings for related violations.


Officer Stanley stopped a vessel inbound from the Charlotte Harbor area with fishing poles visible in the rod holders in Matlacha Pass to conduct a marine fisheries inspection. As the vessel approached his position, the operator stopped the vessel and changed course outside the channel. He quickly began casting a fishing line while idling his vessel into shallow water. Officer Stanley asked the vessel operator how his day of fishing was going and he responded that it was not good and that he only had one snook and stated it was a legal fish that measured 25 inches. The legal size limit for snook is a minimum 28 inches to a maximum of 33 inches. A marine fisheries inspection revealed a 21.5-inch snook in the live well. The operator was issued a notice to appear citation for possession of an undersized snook. The fish was photographed and released.


Officer Winton was on water patrol in Jug Creek when he observed a vessel being operated without a registration sticker. During the stop, the operator continued to change his story about where and when he got the vessel. The vessel was escorted back to the dock, and it was determined that the subject had owned the boat for two and a half years, but had not changed the title or registration over to his name. During the inspection, several other safety violations, hull identification number violations and registration violations were identified. The subject was written a notice to appear, a boating citation and numerous warnings for the violations.


Officer Winton was on water patrol in Matlacha Pass when he saw a commercial crab boat actively pulling blue crab traps. During a stop on the vessel, it was determined that the subjects were pulling traps whose endorsement numbers were not registered to the vessel. Several other violations were discovered relating to live shells, commercial licensing, blue crab endorsements and safety equipment. The occupants were issued notices to appear, a boating citation and multiple warnings for the violations.


Officer Price was conducting surveillance on several subjects fishing from a bridge when he noticed that the subjects keeping several undersized fish. As the subjects packed up their gear, a resource inspection was conducted. During the resource inspection, it was determined that the subjects were in possession of undersized sheepshead. Additionally, one of the subjects had a revoked fishing license. The individuals were issued notices to appear and warnings for the violations.




While on night water patrol, Officer Martinez observed a vessel with improper navigation lights operating outside of the channel near the Dick Meisner Bridge. Officer Martinez approached and realized it was a commercial mullet fishing boat. As Officer Martinez activated his lights, the deckhand on the vessel started to untie nets that were illegally tied together. He quickly boarded the vessel and the deckhand stopped untying the nets. Officer Martinez had the subjects proceed to the closest boat ramp where Officer Bibeau arrived to help with the investigation. The officers found that the two men had a total of four nets tied together (well over 500 square feet) and were not in direct transit, a violation of net carriage rules. The subjects were cited accordingly and the nets were seized. Officer Martinez along with Lieutenants Holcomb and Van Trees later measured the four nets, which tied together measured approximately 1,960 square feet.


After receiving complaints about fishermen violating the local mullet bag limit rule in Coffee Pot Bayou, Officers Bibeau and Bibler set up surveillance and watched for violators. The officers observed a subject matching a description of a violator from earlier in the day. They observed him and another subject harvest over their daily bag limit of mullet, while a third subject waited in a nearby car for a quick getaway. After the men began to put the fish in the trunk of their car, Officer Bibeau called Officer Martinez and Investigator Schefano who were nearby in an unmarked car to complete an inspection. It was discovered the driver of the vehicle was a habitual traffic violator and was in possession of numerous illegal prescription pills. The driver was arrested on three felony charges, and one of the subjects was cited for harvesting over his daily bag limit of mullet.






Lieutenant Ruggiero was checking the borders of the Webb WMA to see if anyone was entering illegally when something caught his eye. He came across a great blue heron that was caught in some fishing line and stuck to a strand of barbed wire in the middle of a canal. Lieutenant Ruggiero used a machete to cut back some thorns and climb down a steep bank so he could cut one side of the barbed wire. Then he had to climb over a dam to pull the bird to safety on the other side of the canal. As he brought the bird to safety, Lieutenant Ruggiero saw a fishing lure that was causing the problem. One end of the lure was caught in the bird’s wing and the other end was caught in the bird’s neck. Lieutenant Ruggiero safely captured the bird and removed the hooks before successfully releasing it unharmed.






Officers Furbay and Stapleton conducted speed enforcement to gain compliance and improve protection to panthers around the protection zones. The officers stopped and educated several people for speed related violations. Three notices to appear were issued for speed exceeding 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. The highest recorded speed was 87 miles per hour in the 45 miles per hour panther protection zone.






Officer Pulaski conducted an outreach event at Sanders Memorial Elementary School. He educated approximately 80 children during the third annual Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) dream celebration. He educated the students about career options and shared valuable knowledge and experiences with the next generation. He encouraged them to make a connection between their education and life goals. Finally, he taught them about the core roles and duties of an FWC officer.









While patrolling the area of the Hillsboro Inlet, Officers Armstrong and Holcomb observed three subjects fishing. When they pulled in to conduct a marine fisheries inspection, the three subjects were walking with two 5-gallon buckets full of fish. In the buckets, they initially observed unregulated species of fish. They further inspected the contents of the buckets and found a total of three undersized snapper at the bottom of the buckets. One of the subjects advised that he caught the mutton snapper and the other two subjects advised they caught the mangrove and schoolmaster snappers but they didn’t know who caught which ones. The first subject was issued a citation for possession of an undersized mutton snapper and the fish was seized as evidence. The other two subjects were issued citations as co-defendants and the mangrove and schoolmaster snapper were also seized as evidence.




Officers McLendon and Boyd were conducting surveillance on a bridge when they observed a subject catch a snook and keep it. Upon conducting a fisheries inspection, the officers discovered a 24” snook hidden beneath the cooler. The snook was seized as evidence and the subject was charged with possession of undersized snook.






Officers Rogers and Morrow responded to a report of a 6-foot alligator that had been struck by a vehicle and was injured and causing a traffic hazard. Upon their arrival, the officers captured the wounded alligator and transported it to the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary for rehabilitation.









Officers Knutson, Yurewitch and Investigator White were on water patrol in an area known as The Narrows and observed a vessel traveling at a high rate of speed through a slow speed manatee zone. They stopped the vessel and addressed the violation. During the vessel stop, the operator continuously exhibited indicators of impairment. After field sobriety tasks, the operator was determined to be impaired and was arrested for boating under the influence (BUI).


A recent long-term investigation was concluded regarding illegal dumping on private property. Last year, Investigator Mert received information indicating there was large scale illegal dumping taking place on private property. Further investigation revealed the property was designated as wetlands. Multiple flyovers of the property confirmed the activity. The investigation revealed a trash hauling company was illegally dumping massive quantities of construction debris on the property, as opposed to paying to dispose of the debris properly. The investigation resulted in one individual being charged with felony dumping, misdemeanor charges for the destruction of wetlands and the operation of an unpermitted solid waste facility.




On December 12, 2017, Investigator Landa continued his enforcement efforts targeting the illegal exhibition of wildlife on South Beach. Investigator Almagro, Officer Martir-Negron, Officer Cosculluela and two Miami Code Enforcement Officers assisted. Investigator Landa identified two individuals exhibiting Burmese pythons to the public. Although the individuals were properly licensed to exhibit the snakes, one individual was viewed exhibiting the snake in a manner that resulted in a threat to public safety. On multiple occasions, he would leave the large snake with the public, leave the area, then return and ask for money for allowing the public to hold the snake. Investigator Landa issued a warning for this violation and educated the licensee on the potential dangers of leaving the snake unattended with the public. The Code Enforcement Officers issued the individual a $500 civil fine for conducting business on Miami Beach without a business license.


Three officers on water patrol were just oceanside of Bear Cut Bridge when they observed a vessel returning from further offshore. The vessel was unlawfully displaying a dive flag while underway, so the officers conducted a vessel stop. The officers recognized the vessel operator from a previous encounter in which he was cited for being in possession of more than one oversized barracuda. In addition to the vessel operator, two other subjects were onboard along with diving equipment, spear guns and a cooler that had large tailfins protruding from it. A fisheries inspection of the cooler was conducted which revealed that all subjects were once again in possession of over the limit of oversized barracudas, along with other speared but legal fish. The vessel operator was asked if that was all the fish that were onboard to which he replied “yes.” Further inspection revealed two speared hogfish (closed season) hidden underneath their dive gear. The vessel operator and the two subjects all received citations related to the fisheries violations.




Officers Thompson and Pino were on routine patrol in uniform on Long Key Bridge and approached persons actively engaged in the act of fishing. A fisheries inspection resulted violations of 1 undersized yellowtail snapper, 2 undersized mangrove snapper, 1 undersized gag grouper, and 2 undersized mutton snapper. The subject was cited accordingly.


Officers Thompson and Pino were on routine patrol near Tea Table Channel. Officer Thompson approached two fishermen who were actively fishing from the shoreline. Both men identified a blue cooler as being theirs and gave consent to Officer Thompson to look inside. They explained that they both caught the fish inside the cooler. A resource check revealed 8 undersized mangrove snapper and 5 undersized lane snapper. One suspect did not possess a valid Florida fishing license. Both subjects were cited accordingly.


Investigator Mattson was completing a vessel inspection when he observed a golf cart being driven on the road with a driver holding his hand on an 8-month-old standing on the passenger seat. Investigator Mattson flagged the driver over to address the numerous traffic infractions, especially the child restraint issue. The driver, who lived in the neighborhood, advised his license was suspended. Two previous suspensions were found along with a non-extraditable warrant out of Miami for failure to appear on Driving While License Suspended (DWLS), with knowledge. Officers Rhoda and McKay arrived to assist. Officer Rhoda took over the case and after the infant was turned over to his mother, the golf cart was towed and the subject was arrested for felony DWLS 3rd or subsequent offense. The State Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case for possible further charges of child neglect/endangerment.


While assisting the United States Coast Guard (USCG) with displaced vessel operations, Officers Morales and Nelson observed an individual operating his dingy in an erratic manor. The officers observed the stern of the dingy go below the waterline and the vessel fill with water. The officers quickly assisted the operator of the vessel who was clinging to the outboard motor cowling of the submerged vessel. The individual was placed aboard the patrol vessel and transported to his sailboat located in the vicinity. After displaying many indicators of impairment during field sobriety exercises, the individual was arrested and transported to the county jail. At the jail, he provided a breath sample almost three times the lawful limit for breath alcohol content.






Officers Knutson and Plussa were dispatched to a bear digging through garbage cans in a residential neighborhood. Upon arrival, the deputy onscene advised the officers of the bear’s location. Officer Knutson used loud verbal commands for the bear to leave with negative results. As a result, adverse conditioning was used on the bear which caused the bear to climb over a fence and leave the area.


Officers Knutson and Johnson were dispatched to a panther call in Golden Gate Estates. While on scene, they noticed three gopher tortoises in a small fenced in area on the property. When the tenant was questioned about the tortoises, she stated the gopher tortoises were on the property before she moved in and she advised the owner that she believed it was illegal to have the tortoises. The property owner advised she received them from a volunteer and put them on her property. The owner did not have the proper permits to possess the tortoises. The tortoises were seized and brought to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. The property owner was cited accordingly.




Officers Rhoda and Mckay responded to a call at Dagny Johnson State Park about a possible python in the park. Upon arriving on scene, the park rangers pointed out what was later identified as a three to four-foot ball python curled up next to a boulder near the park entrance. Officers Rhoda and Mckay captured the snake and transported it to the Crocodile Lake Wildlife Refuge to be turned over to an agent from US Fish and Wildlife.






Officer Yurewitch gave a presentation about the duties and responsibilities of an officer to members of the Backcountry Flyfishers Club. There were approximately 75 individuals in attendance. Officer Yurewitch answered questions pertaining to resource protection, boating safety, and search and rescue.




Officer Cabanas gave a presentation about the duties and responsibilities of an officer to students of Laura C. Sanders Elementary School for career and truck day. He answered questions pertaining to resource protection, boating safety, and search and rescue. There were approximately 100 students in attendance.




Officer McKay assisted John Pennekamp State Park Rangers who were putting on a campfire lecture series on alligators and crocodiles by bringing a 4-foot alligator to the park event. He started by walking around the park in the afternoon with the gator drumming up interest in the evening event. Over 100 people interacted with the gator taking pictures with it. During the lecture, Officer McKay fielded numerous questions about how he responds to alligator/crocodile complaints.


Officer McKay, along with the local Sheriff’s Office, provided traffic control assistance during a post Hurricane Irma roadside cleanup event. Close to 80 volunteers walked along US-1 and the DEP Overseas Heritage Trail removing litter and debris that was either thrown by passing vehicles or were remains from the numerous storm debris piles. Officer McKay also filled the bed of his patrol truck with larger items found and 10 bags of trash.

CapMel Staff
CapMel Staff

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