Officers Kossey and Travis were on patrol in the Eastpoint area and observed a vessel returning from harvesting oysters traveling east in the Eastpoint Channel. They stopped the boat near Barber’s Seafood, inspected a bag of oysters and found the subject to be in possession of undersized oysters. After counting and measuring each individual oyster, they determined the bag contained 53% undersized oysters. The subject was cited and 208 undersized oysters were returned to the water alive.
Officer Webb received information from Communications that a subject was harvesting undersized black drum and stowing them in a truck parked nearby. Upon arrival, two individuals were seen actively fishing and a resource inspection revealed 23 black drum, seven of which were undersized, and one undersized Spanish mackerel. Both individuals were charged with taking over the daily limit and undersized black drum. Written warnings were issued for the undersized mackerel and for fishing without a license for one subject.
While conducting vessel patrol on the Ochlockonee River, Officer Nelson conducted a resource inspection of a recreational fishing vessel occupied by several individuals. Prior to the inspection, the captain of the vessel stated they harvested several catfish and croakers. During the inspection, it was determined the occupants of the vessel were in possession of seven undersized mangrove snapper. Appropriate action was taken regarding the violation.
Officer Gore was on patrol around Culpepper Landing on Holmes Creek at night when he conducted a boating and fisheries inspection on a vessel with two individuals onboard returning to the landing. The vessel was being operated without navigation lights, had no life jackets, and no registration paperwork on board. Further inspection revealed illegally harvested freshwater gamefish by illegal method (gigged shellcracker and bass). The subjects were issued the appropriate citations and warnings for the violations.
Officer Gore was patrolling Econfina Wildlife Management Area when he observed a subject fishing from an unregistered vessel on Rattlesnake Lake. As the individual was leaving, he requested to perform a resource inspection. The subject exited the vehicle and began walking toward the vessel, then fled on foot while Officer Gore was reviewing the subject’s identification. A subsequent search of the area ensued, but the individual was not located. However, positive identification was made and further investigation revealed numerous boating violations, active warrants, a fishing license suspension, and habitual driver’s license suspensions. Appropriate charges have been filed with the State Attorney’s Office for the numerous violations.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Officer Butler received information that subjects were actively hunting during the closed season in the Log Landing Wildlife Management Area. At the scene, evidence was found indicating someone had recently been hunting the area. Officer Butler followed fresh ATV sign on foot and contacted the subject. Following a brief interview, the subject admitted to hunting in the management area. The subject was issued a notice to appear for hunting in the management area during the closed season.
Lieutenant Humphries and Officer Boone worked several bait sites during the Youth Spring Turkey Hunt weekend. After daylight, Officer Boone observed a subject come into one of the bait sites, climb into a tree stand and begin to call for turkeys. The subject admitted to knowing the bait was there and that it was youth turkey season. The subject was cited for attempting to take turkey over bait and attempting to take turkey during a closed season.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Reith attended a hunter education class at the Bass Pro Shops in Gainesville. Several people were in attendance. Officer Reith answered questions and explained rules and regulations to the public.
Officer Boone attended an agricultural outreach event at Branford High School and talked about FWC’s mission and what it takes to become an FWC officer. A total of 350 students attended this event.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
After receiving a request from Alachua Sheriff’s Office regarding a missing boater, Lt. Ferguson, Officers Troiano, Harris, Reith and Drew from Alachua County and Lt. Futch and Officer Butler from Dixie County responded to Newnans Lake. After several days of searching, FWC Lt. Farmer and Officer Reith located and recovered the missing boater. Alachua Sheriff’s Office were notified and the missing boater was released to the Medical Examiner’s office.
Officer Malicoat conducted a resource inspection on a subject who was actively fishing from a vessel. A license query indicated that his fishing and hunting privileges had been suspended by the court for failing to pay child support. He was issued a criminal citation for the offense.
Officer Mason was on patrol at Rodman Dam when he conducted a fisheries inspection on a subject placing fish in a cooler. Upon looking in the cooler, it was found that the subject was in possession of two black bass over 16 inches. The subject was issued a citation for being in possession of more than one black bass over 16 inches in length.
Officer Campbell worked opening day of youth turkey season. He found a baited site with a blind that had two chairs in it and was in position behind the blind on opening morning and watched an adult and juvenile enter the blind just before daylight. After a few minutes went by he could heard someone calling on a turkey call from the blind. Officer Campbell contacted them and he observed scratch feed all over the ground in front of the blind. A citation was issued to the adult for attempting to take turkey within one hundred yards of feed.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY
Officers Thomas and Lawrence conducted a JEA patrol out of St. Augustine Inlet for several hours. The officers conducted 14 JEA boardings/inspections in federal and state waters and found six vessels with fisheries violations. The officers issued three misdemeanor citations, four fisheries warnings, one uniform boating citation, and two warnings for vessel safety gear violations. The fisheries violations included: possession of oversized (state slot limit) red drum harvested in federal waters, possession of undersized cobia, and possession of 11 undersized red snapper on state waters.
Officer Hallsten was observing fishermen at Haulover Canal when he saw a subject catch a very large redfish and quickly put it in his vehicle. The subject packed up his fishing equipment quickly and left. Officer Hallsten conducted a traffic stop for a resource inspection and found that the redfish was 37 ½ inches. Officer Hallsten issued a citation for possession of oversized redfish.
During the second week of March, Officer Humphrey put together targeted enforcement action plan (TEA) named “Safety Sailboat” to assist the U.S. Coast Guard during their annual Operation Gatekeeper detail. This detail was organized to conduct boating safety and marine sanitation device inspections on transit live aboard vessels. FWC Officers Humphrey, Balgo, Miller, Maslo, Wehner, Rasey, Hallsten, Eller and multiple Coast Guard boarding officers conducted more than 30 boardings to include 70 user checks, 27 warnings, 4 citations (3 for discharge of human waste into state waters), 4 verbal warnings and one disabled vessel assist.
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY
While on vessel patrol at Sebastian Inlet, Lieutenant Lightsey and Officer Cybula observed two men returning to a local boat ramp. After approaching the vessel to conduct a resource inspection, the officers observed fish lying on the deck of the vessel. After speaking with the men, they stated that they had sharks and Spanish mackerel in their fish box. An inspection revealed the men were in possession of three sharks. The vessel limit for sharks is two per vessel in State waters. A citation was issued for the offense.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Lieutenant Chase along with Officers Bresie and Morrow responded to a distress call regarding a couple with a 1-year-old child lost in Wekiwa Springs State Park. Deputies from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office also responded. The couple left the Wekiva River because their float was losing air. They didn’t know their location and they couldn’t make their way back. Their cell phone located them off the river in Rock Springs Run Reserve and not the state park. With Officer Bresie’s assistance, Lieutenant Chase located the couple and baby just before sunset. All were safely returned to their vehicle.
While on patrol, Officers Maslo and Luce, along with Lieutenant Davis responded to a search and rescue just north of the NASA Causeway in the Indian River. The winds were 25+ MPH out of the northwest causing the southeast corner of the Indian River to experience rough waters. The occupants were fishing just north of the 405 when they decided to return to the Parrish Park Boat Ramp. They were having issues getting their vessel on plane so the operator tilted the motor while applying power. This caused the vessel to bog down and take on water over the transom of the vessel. As the vessel quickly began filling with water, the occupants put on their life vests and called 911. Officer Luce, along with Titusville Fire Rescue responded by water. Titusville Fire Rescue arrived on scene and retrieved the occupants from their vessel just as it started to capsize. They transported them to Kennedy Point Park where Officer Maslo and Lieutenant Davis had arrived by land. The occupants were unharmed and released by EMS. The vessel was recovered by the occupant the following day. FWC is conducting the accident investigation.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY
Officer Miller participated in a maritime multi-agency training exercise focusing on the proper and safe deployment of Visual Distress Signals (VDS)/flares offshore of St. Augustine Inlet. U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) personnel from USCG Station Mayport coordinated and led the evening training for personnel from the FWC, St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, St. Johns County Fire-Rescue, St. Augustine Fire-Rescue, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Patrol.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS
Marion County officers, along with FWC biologists, participated in a two-day proactive detail targeting known problem areas where bear-human conflicts are an ongoing issue. During the detail officers and biologists contacted residents in these areas to educate them via face-to-face conversations and to distribute literature informing them of the things they can do to prevent bear-human conflict. Additionally, enforcement action was taken at several sites where issues were discovered. This detail resulted in 65 face-to-face contacts, 72 pieces of literature distributed, 5 non-compliance letters, 1 civil citation, and 1 misdemeanor citation.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Miller was accompanied by Staff Sargent Stoltz of Patrick Air Force Base (PAFB) as part of an article documenting the joint efforts of FWC and PAFB security forces. Staff Sargent Stoltz documented Officer Miller’s activity with a write up and photographs of his interaction with the public utilizing Florida’s natural resources while on Air Force base property. Since the beginning of 2018, FWC has been providing additional security and patrols on AFB properties. This day of patrol was part of an article being written to inform base personnel of the increased patrols, as well as to give them information regarding fish and wildlife rules and regulations.
Officers Price and Perry were in a wildlife management area early one morning when they heard several shots prior to shooting hours during the turkey season. Within minutes they heard footsteps coming through the woods and saw two men cross a trail carrying a shotgun and a turkey. The officers told the men to stop but they took off running towards a nearby private property. As they ran the men threw down the shotgun, the turkey, and a bag of marijuana. The officers continued to yell, “police stop,” and one of them stopped. The other man attempted to get to the private property but he got caught up in a barbed wire fence on the property boundary, and Officer Perry was able to apprehend him. K-9 Officers Stasko and Collazo, Officer Mitchell, Lieutenant Ruggiero, and Glades County Sheriff’s Department came to the scene to assist. The men admitted they were planning to hunt turkeys on the management area the day before and knew they were not supposed to be there. K-9 was used to backtrack where the men were hunting and located four spent shotgun shells and a pile of turkey feathers and blood. When the officers identified the men, one of them was on probation for a previous narcotics and road-hunting violation. His probation officer was contacted and informed of the violations. Both men were arrested and delivered to the county jail where they were charged with a variety of violations including taking turkey during non-hunting hours, violation of probation, possession of marijuana, and failing to check in and check out of the management area. They were also issued citations for not possessing a valid quota permit, no turkey permit, and no hunting license.
Officer Sehl was on patrol at Bayport Park and Boat Ramp and contacted a vehicle that was parked in a closed area. Three of the four subjects inside were found to be in possession of marijuana. The three subjects were cited accordingly.
Lieutenant Van Trees, Officers Wilkins and Phillippi were on patrol at the Courtney Campbell Causeway. Officer Wilkins stopped a vessel for a boating safety inspection which was docking at the Courtney Campbell Boat Ramp. Tthe operator was exhibiting signs of impairment and standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) were conducted. The operator performed poorly on all tasks. The operator was arrested for operating under the influence and transported to the Hillsborough County jail. The operator refused to provide a breath sample. During their patrol at the Courtney Campbell Boat Ramp a total of 12 UBCs were issued which included one misdemeanor title violation and one operating under the influence.
While on patrol at the Skyway Fishing Pier, Officer Pettifer observed an individual fishing. Through the course of a resource inspection Officer Pettifer discovered the individual to be in possession of six undersized mangrove snapper and one undersized black drum. The individual was cited for possession of undersized and over the bag limit of mangrove snapper and issued a warning for possession of undersized black drum.
Officers Price and Furbay responded to a complaint about shots being fired on private property. When they arrived, they observed a large party in the woods. The property where the party was occurring was private and none of the people had permission to be on the property. As the officers began issuing trespass notices to the individuals, Officer Price observed a vehicle stuck in a ditch. The operator seemed to be attempting to get Officer Price away from the vehicle. Officer Price ran the subject’s identification and found he had an active warrant for his arrest. He also smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle so he conducted a search of the vehicle. The search revealed marijuana hidden under the seat. The subject was arrested for the warrant and issued two misdemeanors for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.
Officer Price was on plain clothes patrol when he observed a man fishing from the beach. As he watched the man he saw him catch and keep several fish putting them in a cooler. At one point he saw the man catch a small snook which the subject buried in the sand. The subject was stopped as he was preparing to leave the area. A resource inspection revealed six undersized snook and two undersized trout. The man admitted to catching all the fish using a cast net. He was issued misdemeanors for possession of undersized snook, illegal method of catching snook, possession of snook over the bag limit, and possession of undersized trout – in addition to an infraction for not possessing a snook permit.
Officer Gonzales was on water patrol around Long Boat Pass and stopped a subject on a PWC that was operating carelessly. During the stop it became quickly apparent that the operator was under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. After field sobriety tasks were administered, the subject was placed under arrest for boating under the influence. The operator refused to submit to a breath test and was given a civil citation of five hundred dollars for refusal to submit. He was taken to Manatee County jail and will have to appear in court for his violations.
Officer Dalton was on land patrol around Anna Maria Island and performed a fisheries inspection on a man cast netting fish off the Manatee Avenue Bridge leading onto the island. During the inspection, it was discovered that the subject had cast netted three snook, all of which were undersized. The man was issued two citations for possession of over the bag limit of snook and snook taken by illegal method. He will have to appear in court for his violations. He was also given a warning for possession of undersized snook.
While on land patrol in South Pinellas County, Officer Bibeau observed an individual actively fishing from the shoreline with a large cast net. A resource inspection found the subject to be in possession of an undersized snook and a mangrove snapper. The subject was issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of an undersized snook and harvest of a snook with the use of a net, along with multiple warnings for other fisheries violations.
While on water patrol in South Pinellas County, Officer Bibeau observed three individuals actively fishing from the shoreline. A resource inspection located an undersized snook and an undersized black drum. Officer Bibeau wrote one of the subjects a misdemeanor citation for possession of an undersized snook and a warning for the other fisheries violation.
SOUTH REGION A
FWC officers were involved in the apprehension of a subject who was involved in a two-vessel accident in May 2015. Two occupants were killed during this boating accident. The investigation resulted in an arrest warrant being issued by the Broward County State Attorney’s Office for a total of twelve felonies and three misdemeanor charges against the operator. The charges included vessel homicide, BUI manslaughter, and three navigational rule violations.
During opening weekend of Spring turkey season, Officer Matthews was on patrol in the Big Cypress WMA and observed a hunt camp located on private property within the management area. He noticed fresh corn on the ground, ground blinds and a camouflaged subject close by (30 yards from the bait). He contacted the subject who admitted to attempting to take turkey over bait. He was issued a citation and the evidence was photographed.
Officer Brodbeck was on land-based water patrol and observed a vessel actively fishing the Harney Pond Canal. The officer saw two subjects catching and keeping black crappie, several of which appeared undersized. Once the vessel stopped fishing and returned to the ramp, a boating safety and resource inspection was conducted. Located on the deck of the vessel was a bucket containing 21 black crappie, 6 of which measured less than the required 10 inches for Lake Okeechobee waters. When searched through the FWC law enforcement database, both subjects had prior FWC violations. One subject took responsibility for the undersized fish and was issued a citation for the violation. The fish were photographed and returned to the water.
Officer Brodbeck was on land-based water patrol at Harney Pond Canal boat ramp conducting boating safety and resource inspections. The officer contacted a vessel with two subjects at the ramp. Both subjects stated that they caught and kept several black (largemouth) bass. Upon receiving consent to inspect the vessel, 4 black bass were in the live-well of the vessel, 3 of which were larger than 16 inches. The daily limit for black bass over 16 inches is 1 per person. One subject took responsibility for the bag limit violation and was issued a citation. One black bass was returned alive to the water.
Officer Willems was on patrol in Dupuis WEA when he was informed by the area biologist that there was an illegal campsite at the entrance to the Cooter creek trail. An inspection of the campsite determined it to be abandoned. An investigation identified a responsible party, who was contacted and informed of the violations and the rules pertaining to pickup of their property.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officer Loach was on land patrol around Canal Point when he observed two subjects fishing in the West Palm Beach canal. A resource inspection revealed 3 Black Crappie under the Lake Okeechobee 10” minimum length. Both subjects were cited for the violations.
Officer Stone patrolled the Corbett WMA for hunters participating in turkey season. He stopped a vehicle for careless operation. The driver was knowingly driving on a suspended license. The driver was issued warnings for careless operation, no day use permit and a misdemeanor citation for knowingly driving on a suspended license.
Officer Loach was on land patrol around Belle Glade when he observed subjects fishing from a platform into the Hillsborough Canal. A resource inspection revealed a black crappie under the Lake Okeechobee 10” minimum length. Officer Loach was advised by his dispatch center that the subject had been cited previously in 2015 and 2016 for the same offense. The subject was cited for the violation.
Officers Morrow, Godward, Spradling, Trawinski, Pecko, McLeod, Langley, and Boyd, conducted inspections of marine sanitation devices of vessels anchored in Palm Beach County. During the operation, 13 citations were issued, to include y-valve violations, registration, and navigation light violations. In addition, multiple at-risk vessels were identified and will be followed up with in the future.
Officer Loach was on land patrol around Canal Point when he observed two subjects, one carrying a cast net and the other carrying a large basket of fish, walking towards a parked truck. A resource inspection revealed 20 Black Crappie, 15 of which were undersized. During the inspection, noises were heard coming from one of the coolers in the bed of the truck. Upon checking the cooler, Officer Loach discovered an alligator tail, other alligator meat and 4 softshell turtles that were still alive. Investigator Toby, Officer Brevik, and Officer Carroll arrived on scene and assisted with the inspection, during which an additional 61 Black Crappie were discovered, 51 of them being undersized. Multiple firearms were also located (one reported as stolen), drug paraphernalia and a bag of 100 pills which later tested positive for methamphetamine MDMA. The subjects had multiple warrants and were transported and booked into jail. The subjects received multiple misdemeanor and felony charges including possession of an alligator, possession of under-size black crappie, over the bag limit for black crappie, taking of game fish by illegal method, willful waste of wildlife, possession of a stolen firearm and drug charges. The softshell turtles were released back to the water alive.
Officer Brodbeck responded to a report of a juvenile being bitten by a pet red tail boa constrictor snake, causing minor injury to the child’s hand. Captive Wildlife Investigator Toby arrived on scene and interviewed all involved parties. A citation was issued to the owner for the snake bite to the juvenile.
ST. LUCIE COUNTY
Captive Wildlife Investigator Toby responded to a public safety issue at a gas station in St. Lucie County. While at the station, he observed a fuel pump that had significant damage and was leaking fuel onto the ground on both sides of the pump. Investigator Toby was the first emergency responder on scene and immediately activated his emergency lights, verified it was fuel, and ran into the station to notify management to stop fuel service at the station. He maintained a perimeter around the area where the fuel had spilled out and assisted in pushing a car out of the way that had the spilled fuel under it and posed a hazard if started. He then notified Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) who responded with emergency clean up personnel. Video at the station showed that just prior to the investigator arriving, a truck rammed into the pump and barricade, then fled the scene. The case was turned over to Florida Highway Patrol for further investigation.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officers Webb, Norbrothen, and Merizio responded to a report of a Jeep with 3 subjects stuck off trail in the Corbett WMA. The subjects reported that one needed medication within a 2-hour time frame and did not have the medication with them. The officers were given approximate GPS coordinates of the vehicle and subjects. When the officers arrived at the GPS coordinates, the vehicle and subjects were no longer there. The officers searched the area for hours and attempted to make contact several times with the subjects but were unable to locate them. Eventually, the missing subjects made it to a location where they had cell reception and called in their new location. The officers advised the subjects to stay at the new location until they could get to them. The officers had to use a swamp buggy to reach the subjects. All three were located and made it out safely.
Officers Norbrothen, Merizio, Webb and Gouveia responded to a search and rescue with a male and female lost in the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area. The individuals were driving off the main road and had gotten their vehicle stuck. They could not extract their vehicle and did not know how to get out. They called FWC dispatch and provided their GPS coordinates. Using the coordinates, the officers reached the individuals by swamp buggy. Upon contact, it was determined the operator of the vehicle was in violation of the management area rules and was issued a citation. The individuals were transported out of the WMA to get a ride home.
MAJOR WILDLIFE ASSISTANCE
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officer Trawinski and Investigator Phillips were called to remove an alligator from residential neighborhood in West Palm Beach. The 7-foot alligator was captured and relocated.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Several officers participated in a marine sanitation device inspection detail. Dozens of vessels were inspected for compliance with marine sanitation regulations as well as boating safety and mooring violations. All violations observed were documented with warnings or citations as applicable.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Rogers, Brevik, and Carroll gave a presentation to three high school classes at the Martin County High School. They taught students about the FWC and federal fisheries regulations. The officers answered students’ questions about what it is like to be FWC officers, and shared some of their experiences they have had on the job. The outreach event included approximately 60 students. The officers handed out boater safety pamphlets to students who were interested in obtaining boater safety ID cards. The students engaged in open discussions about conservation and law enforcement.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officer Mann attended the Crusin’ Food Festival at MacArthur Beach State Park, provided general security, answered questions and assisted patrons with navigating the festival. The festival was attended by an estimated 1,000 people. The event was very successful.
Officers Trawinski and Merizio attended a homeowners association meeting with FWC biologist Fraker to assist in educating the members on regulations concerning the removal of non-native species and the cohabitation of native and non-native species.
SOUTH REGION B
Officer Dunn received a complaint of three subjects spearfishing snook in a freshwater canal. He observed two subjects on the edge of the canal watching a third subject actively spearfishing in the water. He saw the subject spear a fish and toss it to the subjects on land, where they placed the fish in a blue and white ice chest. A resource inspection revealed a total of six fish, which included one Snook measuring 27 ¾”, one Peacock Bass measuring 14”, one Grass Carp, and three non-regulated fish species. The subject actively spearfishing was cited accordingly to include a citation for fishing in freshwater without a valid freshwater fishing license.
Officers Moschiano and Blanco were on water patrol in Miami-Dade County just south of Bear Cut Bridge. They observed a vessel with four subjects on board and numerous fishing rods displayed. The officers searched the livewell and found two undersized lane snapper, 1 undersized flounder and 1 out of season undersized red grouper. One of the passengers on board admitted to keeping the undersized and out of season fish. Citations were issued for undersized out of season red grouper, undersized lane snapper and undersized flounder.
Captive Wildlife Investigators Smith, Landa, and Corteguera followed up on eight Kinkajous that were previously documented to be in improper caging and unsanitary conditions. A follow-up inspection revealed the conditions had not improved despite the prior warnings. The eight Kinkajous were seized and placed at a licensed facility. The owner of the animals received numerous misdemeanor citations for the improper caging and other related violations.
While conducting late night resource inspections at fishing bridges, Officer Piekenbrock and Officer Wagner came across two groups of people beyond fences marked no trespassing. When the first group of two individuals were found by flashlight they were seen kneeling down on the side of the bridge attempting to hide. One of the two was holding a bag that contained 19 Mangrove Snapper. They were each cited for over the bag limit of Mangrove Snapper. The other group of two subjects were seen in another no trespassing area. One of the individuals had a bucket next to him that contained 8 Mangrove Snapper and 1 Lane Snapper and was cited for over the bag limit of Mangrove Snapper. The second individual had a bucket next to him that contained 11 Mangrove Snapper, 3 Lane Snapper, and 3 Yellowtail Snapper (one of which was undersized) and was cited for over the bag limit of Mangrove Snapper, over the bag limit of 10 aggregate snapper limit, and undersized Yellowtail Snapper.
Officers Kleis, Oldsen and Arbogast were working a joint TEA with Everglades National Park, conducting commercial crab vessel inspections. A 45-foot stone crab vessel was observed entering the pass. A resource inspection revealed a total of 19 undersized stone crab claws. Further inspection of the vessel discovered several fish inside a plastic bag hidden within a stack of buckets. Officer Kleis measured the fish and found one undersized red grouper and three undersized mangrove snappers. A crew member of the vessel took responsibility for the undersized fish and was charged accordingly. The captain of the commercial vessel was charged for the undersized stone crab claws. The claws and undersized fish were submitted into evidence at the Naples Field Office.
Officer Kleis was contacted by Investigator White regarding a tip he received about someone selling stone crab claws without the proper licenses. A man and a woman were actively selling stone crab claws out of the back of their pickup truck at a busy intersection. An inspection revealed that the subjects did not possess an FWC retail license. The subject was charged for selling saltwater products without a retail license.
Officer Reams was working the final weekend of spring gobbler season in Picayune Strand State Forest when he encountered a subject deep within the forest and noted a strong odor of cannabis emanating from the vehicle. Cannabis debris was on the console of the vehicle. The subject admitted to having cannabis, which was located in the center console of the vehicle. Officer Curbelo and Lieutenant Bulger arrived to assist, and while searching the vehicle discovered additional drug paraphernalia as well as a large quantity of a prescription medication. The subject was placed under arrest and transported to the Collier County Jail.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Dube and Steinmetz gave presentations to the criminal law classes at South Dade High School in Homestead. Officers talked about the requirements needed to become a FWC Officer. Officers also discussed FWC’s mission along with the diverse duties of FWC Officers. At the end of each presentation it was asked how many students would be interested in a career as a FWC Officer and more than 2 dozen students raised their hands.
FWC Dive Team officers and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Dive Team participated in joint agency training in Islamorada. The divers worked together in pairs to review essential dive skills, as well as an underwater simulation. The divers’ masks were taped during the entire simulation to create a zero-visibility environment, and the divers were deprived of the underwater communication systems. The diver’s objective was to locate a task box underwater using an effective search pattern technique. Once the box was located, the divers had to work through the various tasks within the box, followed by a simulated entanglement, and then execute a diver in distress scenario underwater with their partner. Both FWC and MCSO continue to closely train together to review techniques and procedures that are crucial for partnerships in the field.
Officer Kleis attended a Career Exploration Lab at a local Naples high school and spoke to small groups of high school juniors and seniors about the mission FWC. Officer Kleis explained the hiring process and academy experience as well as the everyday duties of FWC Officers. The students asked multiple questions about human-animal conflicts, boating, fishing, and hunting regulations. Approximately 50 students were in attendance at the event.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
The offshore vessel Trident captain Richards conducted a search and rescue near Sombrero Reef Light offshore of Marathon. The missing female diver was from a commercial dive boat. FWC Pilot Willman also responded and located the missing diver who was picked up by a FWC vessel and transported to shore unharmed. The US Coast Guard also assisted.
Officers Kleis and Arbogast responded to a call regarding a missing hiker in Big Cypress. The officers met local sheriff’s deputies where the missing subject had parked his vehicle. A search was conducted and the Sheriff’s Office Aviation unit located the missing person approximately 11 miles from his vehicle. The man was recovered and returned to his vehicle unharmed. The subject stated that he went hiking and was unprepared for the trip and requested help once he realized he wasn’t going to be able to find his way out before dark.