Officers Clark and Long were on vessel patrol in Quietwater Beach. The officers saw a male and female on a vessel arguing. Officer Clark stopped the vessel and spoke to the operator. While he was conducting a safety inspection, Officer Clark could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath. He also noticed his eyes were very bloodshot and glassy. He asked the operator if he had been drinking and he advised he had. Officer Clark asked the operator if he would submit to field sobriety tasks (FST) and he agreed. After the conclusion of the FSTs, the operator was arrested for BUI. A breath sample of .223 blood alcohol content and .224 blood alcohol content was obtained.
Officers Travis and Stephens were on patrol in the Apalachicola Bay. The officers boarded a vessel returning from fishing to conduct a resource inspection. Officer Travis asked the subjects on board if they had any fish to which one stated “yes” and the other stated “no.” After further inspection, Officer Travis discovered an undersized gag grouper. The grouper was seized for evidence and the owner cited for the violation.
Officer Jones was on patrol off Iron Bridge Road and the Ochlockonee River when he saw a vehicle parked at the boat ramp. He walked the river’s edge and saw two males with their backs towards him. One of the subjects was in possession of an assault style weapon. Officer Jones identified himself from a position of advantage and told the subject with the weapon to put it down. The subject complied and appeared very nervous. Officer Jones asked the subject with the weapon if it was his and the subject replied that it belonged to a friend. The subject only gave the owner’s first name stating he did not know his last name. Officer Jones collected the weapon observing the serial number was altered and walked back to the boat ramp with the subjects. Officer Jones secured the weapon in his vehicle and asked the subjects for identification. They stated they were in the center console. Officer Jones asked if it was ok if he retrieved the licenses and the subject said it would be fine. When Officer Jones opened the console he saw a clear bag that appeared to contain marijuana. The ID was under the drugs. Officer Jones collected the drugs and secured them in his vehicle. Officer Jones arrested the subject with the firearm for possession of a weapon with an altered serial number. The other subject was issued a notice to appear for the drugs. The following day Officer Jones received a call from the Tallahassee Police Department regarding a burglary where an AR 15 was stolen. After meeting with the police officer, it was determined that the subject in possession of the weapon at the Ochlockonee River was at the residence prior to the firearm being stolen.
While conducting vessel patrol on the Wacissa River, Officer Wilcox saw a vessel approaching the boat ramp at the headwaters. When the occupants of the vessel saw her standing on the dock, they pulled to a stop in the grass opposite the dock. Officer Wilcox called the operator over to her twice before he complied. During the boating safety inspection, the vessel operator showed several signs of impairment and Officer Wilcox could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the operator. The operator agreed to participate in a series of field sobriety tasks during which he showed several more signs of impairment. The operator was booked into the Jefferson County Jail and provided a breath sample which was above the legal limit. On the same day, Officer Wilcox was conducting a boating safety inspection on a vessel when she saw a case of beer in the vessel. The single occupant of the vessel was not old enough to possess alcohol and he admitted to consuming alcohol. Upon providing a breath sample of .07 (which is more than three times the limit of .02 for a person under 21), the subject was issued a citation for possession of alcohol by a person under 21 and for a person under 21 operating a vessel with blood alcohol content of .02 or higher.
Officer Maltais was on vessel patrol conducting boating safety inspections and enforcement of the slow speed/minimum wake zone in the Intracoastal Waterway near Brooks Bridge. The officer saw a personal watercraft (PWC) in violation of the minimum wake zone. Further, the operator did not have his life jacket buckled and the passenger was not wearing a life jacket. The vessel was stopped to address the violations. In communication with the operator, the officer saw his eyes were glassy, bloodshot, watery and red and he also smelled the moderate odor of alcoholic beverage on his breath and person. Officer Maltais conducted field sobriety tasks (FST) to determine if the operator was impaired. After the FSTs were completed, the operator was arrested for BUI. The operator provided two breath samples, resulting in 0.150 and 0.155 blood alcohol content. He was transported to the Okaloosa County Jail.
Officers Bartlett and Pifer were conducting state fisheries inspections at the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier. An individual was found in possession of nine undersized bluefish. The individual was cited and issued a notice to appear citation for over the bag limit of bluefish.
Officer Corbin and Lieutenant Hahr were on vessel patrol conducting boating safety inspections and resource protection. The officers saw a personal watercraft (PWC) on full plane traveling north from the Destin Bridge toward Crab Island in violation of the idle speed/no wake zone. The officers conducted a vessel stop on the PWC to address the violation. In communication with the operator, Officer Corbin smelled a distinct odor of cannabis coming from the vessel. The operator admitted there were three “blunts” in the vessel compartment. Also, a multicolored glass smoking device containing burnt cannabis and a medicine bottle containing cannabis were discovered. Both the operator and passenger were issued notice to appear citations.
Officers Corbin and Pifer were on vessel patrol near the entrance of Destin Harbor. The officers saw a vessel being operated with three children on board who were under six years of age and not wearing personal flotation devices (PFDs). A vessel stop was initiated to address the violation and to conduct a boating safety inspection. It was determined the pontoon was a rental and the livery failed to provide the required, properly fitting life jackets for the children. A notice to appear citation was issued to the livery for failing to provide the required life jackets for the occupants on board.
Officer Wilkenson received information from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) regarding a possible state fisheries violation. The USCG made a vessel stop and during the safety inspection they saw what appeared to be an undersized red snapper. Officer Wilkenson arrived at the USCG Station Destin, contacted the vessel owner and received consent to board the vessel to conduct a fisheries inspection. The inspection revealed undersized red snapper and vermilion snapper. The operator was issued a notice to appear citation.
Officer Corbin was on vessel patrol conducting boating safety inspections and resource protection in the Destin Pass area. The officer saw a vessel returning from the Gulf of Mexico displaying rods and reels. The officer conducted a vessel stop and, during the safety inspection, determined the vessel was returning from a fishing trip. The fisheries inspection revealed two undersized red snapper and two undersized vermilion snapper. The operator was issued a notice to appear citation for the undersized fish.
Lieutenant Bartlett, Investigator Schafer, and Officer Pifer were on water patrol around Crab Island when they saw a vessel leaving the area. As the vessel navigated through the other anchored vessels, the vessel’s motor caught the anchor line of another vessel. The vessel also had fishing gear on board. After the vessel cleared the other anchored vessel, a stop was initiated to conduct a saltwater fisheries and boating safety inspection. During the inspection, Officer Pifer saw signs of impairment from the operator. Officer Pifer administered standardized field sobriety tasks. Based on observations of the vessel in motion, personal contact with the operator, and the operator’s performance on the field sobriety tasks, Officer Pifer placed the operator under arrest for BUI. The operator agreed to provide a breath sample and the results were 0.184 and 0.164 blood alcohol content.
Officers Long and Clark and Investigator Molnar conducted a vessel stop on a vessel violating the idle speed zone at Crab Island. While speaking with the operator, the officers noticed the operator was showing multiple signs of impairment. Officer Long conducted field sobriety tasks (FST) on the operator to determine impairment and arrested the operator for BUI. The operator refused to provide a breath sample. The operator was transported to the Okaloosa County Jail.
Officers Corbin, Mullins and Roberson were on water patrol in Destin when they saw a vessel in violation of the idle speed-no wake zone and passing other vessels. They conducted a vessel stop to address the violation and conduct a boating safety inspection. While conducting the inspection, the operator showed signs of impairment. The operator was asked to conduct field sobriety tasks (FST) and he agreed. More clues were shown throughout the tasks and the operator was placed under arrest for BUI. The operator provided two breath samples of .226 blood alcohol content and .220 blood alcohol content.
Officers Corbin and Mullins were on water patrol in Destin when they saw a kayak with two subjects on board struggling to paddle against the tide and current. The officers pulled alongside the kayak and asked if they needed any assistance. They stated yes and advised they rented the kayak in the Destin Harbor. The subjects did not have life jackets or a sound producing device and when asked if they were given the items when they rented the kayak, they stated no. A livery inspection was conducted and the livery was issued a notice to appear citation for renting a vessel without the proper boating safety equipment and a written warning for not having boating safety information displayed at the livery.
Officers Corbin and Mullins were on water patrol at the Destin West Jetty when they saw two subjects within 100 feet of the jetty and public beach with spearfishing equipment. An Okaloosa County deputy was also on scene and advised a spear gun had been dropped by their dive flag. More spearfishing equipment was located on the jetty. Both subjects admitted to spearfishing within 100 feet of the jetties and beach and were issued notice to appear citations.
Officers Corbin and Mullins were on patrol when they were dispatched to a hit and run boating accident in the Destin Harbor. The complainant advised the vessel had struck two docked vessels and was currently in the back of the cove aground. The officers arrived on scene, located the vessel, and saw the operator sitting in the captain’s seat of the vessel. The subject was assisted to shore, and a boating accident investigation was conducted. The operator did not remember striking either vessel. While speaking with the operator, the officers saw signs of impairment. The operator was asked to conduct field sobriety tasks (FST) and he agreed. More clues of impairment were apparent throughout the tasks and the operator was placed under arrest for BUI. The operator provided two breath samples of .142 blood alcohol content and .153 blood alcohol content.
Officer Bartlett and Roberson were on water patrol around Crab Island when they saw a PWC on plane in the idle speed/no wake zone. The officers conducted a vessel stop to contact the operator and address the boating violation. While Officer Bartlett was speaking with the operator, he saw several signs of impairment and asked the individual to perform the voluntary field sobriety tasks. Based on the operator’s performance during the tasks he was arrested for BUI. The operator later provided two breath samples resulting in a 0.134 and 0.133 blood alcohol content.
Officer Roberson and Bartlett were on water patrol at Crab Island when they received a call from U.S. Coast Guard Station Destin who stated they were currently on a vessel stop and suspected the vessel operator was impaired. When the officers arrived on scene, Officer Roberson assisted USCG with conducting a boating safety inspection. Based on the signs of impairment Officer Roberson saw during the safety inspection, he asked the operator to perform voluntary field sobriety tasks. After the tasks were completed, Officer Roberson arrested the operator for BUI. The operator later provided a breath sample resulting in a 0.128 and 0.116 blood alcohol content.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officers Clark and Long were on patrol in the Yellow River Management Area. They saw a silver vehicle traveling in the management area with an expired tag. Officer Clark initiated a traffic stop and asked the driver for his license, but he could not produce one. He advised that he didn’t have it with him. After identifying the driver, it was discovered that he has had seven prior suspensions on his Florida Driver License and that he did not have a current valid license. Officer Clark determined the driver had knowledge of his suspension. During the stop, Investigator Schafer determined the passenger had a warrant out of Santa Rosa County. Officer Clark charged the subject with driving while license is suspended or revoked with knowledge and both the driver and occupant were transported to the Santa Rosa County Jail.
Officers Clark and Long and Investigator Schafer were on marked vehicle patrol in Blackwater State Forest. Officer Clark contacted a subject and saw a cooler in the back of his truck. When asked, the operator stated that he had alcohol which is illegal to possess in the State Forest. While talking with the operator, Officer Clark could smell the odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle. He had the operator exit the truck and asked if he had any marijuana in the vehicle. The operator advised that he did and that it was hidden in the center console next to the driver’s seat. The marijuana was retrieved along with a glass pipe and metal rod. The operator was cited for possession of marijuana under 20 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia and was given a warning for possession of alcohol in Blackwater State Forest.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Officer Reid was on water patrol in the Homosassa River when he saw a canoe flipped over. Officer Reid helped get the canoe righted and noticed a bag containing a green leafy substance attached to one of the PFDs. The subject showed signs of impairment. Officer Reid conducted several tasks and determined the operator was impaired. The subject was arrested and taken to jail where he provided a sample of his breath at .087 bac. He was also cited for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Citrus County officers worked the opening of scallop season. There was moderate activity and the officers made four reckless operation cases for vessel operators running on plane too close to dive flags with people in the water.
Officer Reid and Investigator Thomason were working the City of Inverness fireworks display on Lake Henderson. There were numerous vessels on the lake and Reid and Thomason stopped a pontoon boat for no navigation lights. The operator showed signs of impairment. They conducted several tasks and determined the operator was indeed impaired. The operator was arrested and taken to jail where he provided a sample of his breath at .118 blood alcohol content.
Officer Drew received information of a suspect who had been captured on video loading a deer behind the Bass Pro Shop. After a review of the video revealed a tag number for the suspects’ vehicle. The suspect was in Taylor County where Officer Drew, with the assistance of Officer Albritton, received written confessions, the 17-caliber weapon used, and information where the doe hide had been dumped. Officer Drew will be filing multiple charges with the Alachua State Attorney’s Office to include taking deer during closed season and simple trespass.
Lieutenant Arkin and Officer Schirbock were on vessel patrol 12.5 miles offshore from Mayport Inlet in the Atlantic Ocean when they conducted a resource/fisheries inspection on a vessel with three subjects onboard fishing at the M-R Site. The fisheries inspection revealed 26 black sea bass, eight red snapper, and two cobia. The two adult subjects on board were issued federal citations for possession of red snapper during a closed season, possession over the bag limit for black sea bass and possession of undersized black sea bass (most of the black sea bass were between 5”- 8”), and possession of undersized cobia. The vessel captain was also issued a notice to appear for improper use of a vessel dealer number and an infraction citation for expired flares.
Officers Burnsed, Tyler and Fanelli were on water patrol in Dixie County when the officers saw a man and woman fishing from a flats boat and stopped the boat to conduct a fishery inspection. They were found to be in possession of seven undersized spotted sea trout. The male subject was issued a notice to appear for the violation.
Officers Burnsed, Tyler, Fanelli and Reserve Officer Lee were working a private deer dog hunting club, listening for free running deer dogs. The officers heard some dogs around 6:30 a.m. A truck driver with a dog box, who was trying to keep up with his dogs, was stopped in the area for a hunting inspection. The subject admitted to the officers that he was using free running dogs to chase deer. The subject was issued a notice to appear for the violation.
Officers Johnston and Tyler were on park patrol in the Ichetucknee Springs State Park when they saw an underage female subject attempting to hide an alcoholic beverage when she saw their patrol vehicle. She hid the alcoholic beverage in the trunk of the vehicle and slammed the trunk shut as the officers approached on foot. The force of the door slamming sent a rush of cannabis smoke-filled air from the vehicle directly into the faces of both officers. During a search of the vehicle, the officers found alcoholic beverages, cannabis, drug paraphernalia and multiple forms of identification. One of the driver licenses found by Officer Johnston was determined to be a fraudulent form of identification manufactured in a foreign country. The ID appeared to be from the state of Mississippi and displayed an image of the female subject but had a false date of birth. The driver license number was found to be assigned to an actual male subject in Mississippi. Multiple misdemeanor charges are being filed with the Columbia County State Attorney’s Office for the drug and alcohol related violations as well as one felony charge for unauthorized use/ possession of a fake driver’s license.
Lieutenant Kiss was doing computer work in the parking lot of Oleno State Park when he received a call regarding a suicidal woman near his location. The woman was texting with her husband and threatened suicide multiple times. Columbia County deputies as well as Officer McGrath responded, and a search ensued in a downpour of rain. After a 30 to 40-minute search, the woman was located. She was distressed and very upset. She was secured, Baker Acted and taken to a local facility for evaluation by the Columbia County deputies.
Officers Albritton and Dasher were on patrol in south Taylor County when they saw subjects fishing in a borrow pit in the Sand Hill Hunting Club. After checking the subjects, they were found not to be members of the club and had willfully trespassed to fish. The subjects were cited for trespass.
Officers Albritton and Wilder were checking offshore boats for compliance of the state’s boating safety and marine fisheries regulations at Keaton Beach in Taylor County. The officers found two individuals on a vessel to be in possession of over the bag limit of red snapper. The officers issued the appropriate citation.
While checking a subject on the George Crady Fishing Bridge in Amelia State Park, Officer Sweat saw a vehicle parked in a turn lane at the entrance to the main parking lot. After approximately 10 minutes, Officer Sweat approached the vehicle to conduct a welfare check. The operator’s eyes were bloodshot, glassy and watery. His speech was slurred and incoherent. The keys were in the ignition of the vehicle and the vehicle was off. Officers Culbreth and Barry arrived to assist. Officer Culbreath located an opened bottle of Captain Morgan rum beside the operator on the front seat along with a .357 magnum pistol. Officer Sweat conducted field tasks and the operator performed poorly. After being booked in the Nassau County Jail, he submitted breath samples of 0.292 and 0.267.
Investigator Thomason coordinated a targeted enforcement detail named, “Operation Scallop Scalper,” which targeted boaters operating recklessly close to divers down flags, as well as boating safety. Investigator Thomason, along with Investigator Sumpter, posed as scallop fishermen while displaying a diver down flag from their vessel. Because of the hundreds of vessels in the scallop grounds off Crystal River and Homosassa, which runs from Chassahowitzka to the Crystal River Channel, Investigator Thomason had four chase boats available manned by Lieutenant Jones, Officer Reid, Officer Browning and Officer Ulrich. During the detail they wrote six citations for reckless operation and four citations for careless operation. All 10 citations were directly related to vessels passing within 300 feet of a divers down flag. Additionally, they wrote nine UBCs and 60 boating safety warnings.
Lieutenant Humphries and Officer Boone responded to a call for assistance from Lafayette Sheriff’s Office after a subject ran from a traffic stop initiated by a Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services officer. The subject had multiple warrants for arrest and fled on foot along the nearby river bank. Lieutenant Humphries and Officer Boone provided waterborne coverage, vessel transport for K-9 units and geographical knowledge to the other assisting agencies that ultimately led to the apprehension of the fleeing subject.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Boone attended the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Youth Camp in Branford. He provided a boating safety presentation to the attending children and adults. During the presentation several questions were answered on the topics of conservation enforcement, boating safety and vessel requirements.
Officer Boone contributed to the Suwannee County Police Athletic League event in Live Oak. He provided a boating safety presentation to the large group of children and parents. The topics of discussion included boating safety, resource conservation and state vessel regulations.
While on patrol at Wekiwa Springs State Park, Officer Auber and Investigator Douglas responded to a disturbance in the park. The officers encountered a man standing with his shirt off, smoking a cigarette, consuming alcohol, and appeared to be talking to himself. The subject became argumentative and tried to throw away the case of beer he had in his possession. Inside the case, the officers found a bag of marijuana. The subject was arrested and cited for consumption of alcohol in a state park, possession of cannabis, and littering.
While on water patrol on Lake Conway, Officer Auber and Investigator Douglas conducted a vessel safety inspection. During the inspection, the male operator showed signs of possible impairment. The officers conducted field sobriety tasks and based upon their observations, arrested the operator for boating under the influence and booked him into the Orange County Jail.
Officer Scrambling responded to information he received of someone snatch hooking fish at the Highway 441 spillway in on the south end of Lake Griffin. Officer Scrambling arrived on scene and saw four black bass and two bluegill dead in the grass. The subject was sitting on the shoreline and was recognized by Officer Scrambling due to previous encounters and violations. The subject had a live bass on a stringer with a hole in its side, consistent with being hooked from the outside of its body (snatch hooking). The subject was issued a notice to appear for the violation.
Officer Scrambling was patrolling on County Road 48 when he saw a truck backed into the grass on the west side of Rumford Road with its tailgate down. This area is a dead-end road known for illegal dumping. Officer Scrambling contacted the subjects, who eventually admitted to dumping illegally. The subjects cleaned up the litter and were cited appropriately.
Officer Scrambling was patrolling the Withlacoochee River when he stopped to conduct a resource inspection on a subject fishing from shore. The subject had an active warrant of out of Georgia and was arrested for extradition.
Officers Dias and Fahnestock were on patrol in the Ocala National Forest when they saw tire tracks going into a restricted area. They followed the tracks and came across a vehicle occupied by a male subject. Officers Dias and Fahnestock smelled a distinct odor of marijuana. The subject admitted to the possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. Upon search of the vehicle, the officers also located methamphetamine. The subject was arrested and booked into jail.
While on patrol on the southwest end of Lake Weir, Officer Rice saw an airboat stuck on the bank. The operator was trying to get the vessel unstuck after he attempted to cross a county road. During the vessel inspection, Officer Rice detected the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the operator and saw clues of possible impairment. Officer Rice also saw several empty beer cans floating in the water near the vessel. Officer Rice administered field sobriety tasks and determined that the operator’s normal faculties were impaired. The operator was arrested for boating under the influence (BUI) and transported to the Marion County Jail, where he refused to provide a breath sample.
Officer West was on patrol when he encountered an adult male operating his vehicle and unable to maintain his travel lane. After conducting a traffic stop Officer West detected signs of impairment. After the subject completed field sobriety exercises it was determined that his normal faculties were impaired. He was arrested for driving under the influence and booked into the Volusia County Jail.
Officers Sapp and Presser were performing resource inspections in Ormond Beach when they encountered a man throwing a cast net in the Intracoastal Waterway. While checking for a fishing license, the officers learned that he had three active warrants out of Volusia County. He was arrested and transported to the Volusia County Jail.
Officer Dias was conducting water patrol on Lake Weir when he saw a personal watercraft (PWC) violating a no wake zone. He saw the operator bounce the PWC off the dock and begin doing figure 8’s and 360’s while still within the no wake zone. Officer Dias conducted a vessel stop to address the violation and conduct a boating safety inspection. During the inspection, Officer Dias noticed numerous signs of impairment. Field sobriety exercises were conducted, and the operator gave several additional clues of impairment. He was arrested and transported to the Marion County Jail where he provided breath samples of .180 and .161.
Officers Hallsten and Eller were on water patrol in the Atlantic Ocean out of Port Canaveral. Approximately 20 miles off Melbourne Beach they noticed a vessel on full plane heading south and loaded with fishing gear. The officers stopped the vessel to perform a resource inspection. The occupants told the officers that they had only caught one undersized mahi on that day but let it go. The officers noticed blood in the back of the vessel that the occupants previously were trying to hose down. A further inspection of the vessel revealed fresh fillets of a previously caught mahi. The subjects were cited accordingly.
Officers Hallsten and Eller were 25 miles off Melbourne Beach when they identified a vessel anchored with five occupants bottom fishing. A resource inspection revealed a cooler of all legal fish. However, both Officer Eller and Officer Hallsten noticed that the stern of the vessel was very cluttered with fishing bags and gear. Closer examination revealed that buried under all the bags of gear was another cooler. The occupants stated that it was a live well. An inspection of that cooler revealed a one-gallon bag full of red snapper fillets. The subjects were cited accordingly.
Officers Hallsten, Balgo, and Delano were on water patrol in the Atlantic Ocean out of Port Canaveral when they saw a vessel approximately seven miles offshore returning to the port. The officers saw an assortment of fishing equipment onboard and stopped the vessel to conduct a resource inspection. Officer Delano conducted the inspection and upon opening the first cooler discovered four large two-gallon freezer bags, weighing over 40 pounds. Interviews resulted in the suspects admitting to having filleted red snapper, cobia, and mangrove snapper while offshore. The conclusion of the resource inspection also revealed that the subjects were over their total aggregate bag limit of snapper and were taking them by illegal method. Numerous federal citations were documented, and the suspects were cited accordingly.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Officer Rice and Investigator Miller were conducting boating safety checks at Carney Island Boat Ramp on Lake Weir when they saw a personal watercraft (PWC) approaching the pier in violation of the posted idle speed zone. A male was operating the PWC and a female was holding onto the operator. The female was not wearing a personal flotation device. When the PWC came around the end of the pier, the female appeared to be ill and possibly experiencing a medical emergency. The officers headed down the dock to contact the PWC and occupants. When they got halfway to the location, the female fell off the PWC and disappeared below the surface of the water without resurfacing. The officers rushed down the pier and dove into the water. The victim still hadn’t surfaced and was feared to have drowned. After searching underwater, the officers finally located the female and pulled her up. She immediately gasped for air and was barely conscious. The officers swam her over to the dock where park personnel assisted them with getting her out of the water and administering first aid.
Putnam County and St. Johns County FWC officers responded to the area of Dunn’s Creek by land and water about a missing five-year-old child. A search was conducted in conjunction with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and the child was located a short time later in an abandoned vehicle.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers from Brevard County and Osceola County hosted all the Brevard County State Attorneys to a cookout and airboat tour on the St. Johns River. It was a great opportunity for officers and state attorneys to build a stronger working relationship. Officers used this opportunity to discuss the job of an FWC officer and answer some of the more frequently asked questions concerning fish and wildlife violations.
While on water patrol, Officers Rorer and Caldwell received a complaint of an individual cast netting and keeping snook at Cypress Point. The officers responded and located the individual who was in possession of a snook. He was cited for possession of an undersized snook during a closed season.
Officer Rorer and Lieutenant Laskowski were following up on a boating accident that occurred between two jet skis at the Courtney Campbell Causeway. At the time of the accident, the extent of one of the victim’s injuries was not known. They conducted follow up interviews with both operators and determined both operators were inexperienced and did not possess the required boating safety identification card for operating a vessel. During the investigation, violations of three Coast Guard navigation rules to include improper lookout, unsafe speed and required action by a give way vessel were documented. Both operators were cited for the applicable navigational rule violations and for not having the required boating safety identification cards.
While on water patrol in Tampa Bay, Officer LaRosa contacted a vessel and conducted a fisheries inspection. During the inspection, it was determined the subject had a warrant out of Pinellas County for battery. The individual was arrested for the warrant and transported to the Hillsborough County Jail to await extradition to Pinellas County.
While on foot patrol at Medard Park in Hillsborough County, Lieutenant Van Trees saw two fishing poles that had been discarded in the woods just off a foot trail. Since the poles weren’t broken and in good condition, he followed footprints until he came upon a group of men cast netting. Medard Park is a Fish Management Area (FMA) and recreational cast netting is not allowed. Lieutenant Van Trees watched the men from a concealed location as they took freshwater fish with the cast net and threw their empty aluminum cans into the woods. He contacted the group after watching them for a while and addressed the violations. On the way back to their vehicle, the men picked up their fishing poles and Lieutenant Van Trees pointed out the signs they passed advising it was illegal to cast net. Two men were given misdemeanor citations for cast netting in a FMA and warned for littering and not possessing their freshwater fishing licenses.
Lieutenant Van Trees was on water patrol with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit (HCSO) when they stopped a vessel with the two males on board to conduct a boating safety inspection. The HCSO deputy noticed signs of impairment from the operator, and after seated field sobriety exercises the operator was arrested for BUI. Officers Wilkins, Martinez, and Larosa arrived on another vessel to take possession of the operator’s vessel when Officer Martinez noticed signs of impairment from the passenger on the vessel and discovered he was under 21 years old. The passenger admitted to drinking with the operator and agreed to give a sample of his breath via a portable breath tester (PBT). The PBT confirmed the passenger had a Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC) of .042 and he was cited for a minor in possession of alcohol. The operator was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail for BUI and failure to submit to breath/urine/blood sample.
Officer Wilkins was on water patrol with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit (HCSO) and made three boating under the influence arrests near the Beer Can Island area of Tampa. Officer Wilkins has been mentoring the deputies and helping them with BUI enforcement in their area of operation. They were the first BUI’s for both deputies.
While on water patrol with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit (HCSO) near Beer Can Island, Officer Wilkins initiated a vessel stop at which time the operator tried switching positions with another occupant. Officer Wilkins conducted a boating safety inspection with the subject who tried to leave the helm and saw the man bracing himself on the vessel, slurring his words, and forgetting the safety equipment asked of him. Officer Wilkins arrested the subject and booked him into the Hillsborough County Jail for boating under the influence and refusal to submit to a test of breath/urine/blood.
Captive Wildlife Investigator Hough and Lieutenant DeLacure assisted the Tampa Police Department with the inventory and transport of numerous turtles and tortoises that were possessed by a wildlife dealer whose Class III wildlife license had been denied. The subject continued to sell and advertise the sale of these reptiles after his license was denied. Charges will be filed with the State Attorney’s Office for the violations.
Officers Garcia and Hardgrove received a tip that a local charter boat captain frequently harvested over the two per vessel limit of African pompano. The vessel was scheduled to return from a two-day trip to the Dry Tortugas the following morning. The officers met the boat at the dock before sunrise the next morning and found the captain to be in possession of 12 African pompano. Appropriate charges were filed.
Lieutenant Spoede and Officer Winton were on water patrol in Matanazas Pass when they saw a vessel which appeared to be weaving and unable to maintain a fixed course. The officers noticed that the vessel did not display a boater safety decal. They stopped the vessel to conduct a boating safety inspection and they noticed that both the vessel and its operator were covered in blood. The operator stated that he did not know where he had injured himself and he appeared to be severely impaired. Field sobriety tasks were administered, and the subject was placed under arrest. As he was being handcuffed, the subject resisted officers, and continued to resist officers as they walked him down the dock at a nearby boat ramp. The subject received medical attention and later provided breath samples of .153 and .149, almost three hours after the arrest. The subject was then booked into the Lee County Jail for boating under the influence and resisting an officer without violence.
Officers Price and Gray were on night water patrol near Lover’s Key State Park when they saw people inside the park during closed hours. In the darkness the officers were able to catch the subjects off guard, fishing along the beach. As the officers approached they could clearly see an open backpack with a bag inside that appeared to contain marijuana. One of the other subjects had a backpack as well and was observed getting items out of it, but they claimed it was not theirs and was abandoned on the beach. Officer Price opened the pack to see if he could identify the owner. Inside was another bag containing a substantial amount of marijuana. Unfortunately for the two men, their car keys, cell phones and other identifying items were inside. The men were read their Miranda rights and later admitted the drugs were theirs. The first package of marijuana weighed 36 grams while the second package weighed 114 grams. Both subjects were arrested for felony possession of marijuana over 20 grams along with other charges relating to drug paraphernalia.
Officer Winton was on vessel patrol off the coast of Sanibel when he saw a commercial charter vessel returning from offshore waters. He stopped the vessel and noticed that the mate onboard was hesitant for him to inspect one of the fish boxes. A search of the fish box revealed 23 snapper (multiple species) not in whole condition, as well as 6 undersized yellowtail snapper. The captain of the vessel was issued a notice to appear for the violations.
Officer Winton was on federal water patrol in the Gulf of Mexico when he came across a vessel with the occupants actively fishing. A vessel stop was conducted, and it was determined that the occupants were in possession of one undersized gag grouper, two undersized red grouper, an undersized and out-of-season gray triggerfish, and two undersized lane snapper. The captain of the vessel was issued multiple citations and warnings for the violations.
Officer Winton was on patrol in Matlacha when he noticed a vessel being trailered without a license plate attached. He stopped the vehicle and determined that the subjects had been fishing and were in possession of snapper and sheepshead. In the subject’s cooler, Officer Winton discovered 5 undersized mangrove snapper and 2 undersized sheepshead. Additionally, the driver of the vehicle did not have a valid fishing license. The driver was issued a notice to appear for the fisheries violations, and warnings for an expired fishing license and for driving a trailer without a license plate attached.
Officers Price and Gray were on water patrol near Redfish Point when they saw two people leaving a waterside bar on their jet skis. They left on plane and ran through two different slow speed areas. When the officers attempted to stop the PWC’s, only one of them complied. During the vessel safety inspection, the officers noticed signs of impairment. The officers administered sobriety exercises and he was arrested for boating under the influence. At the jail, he submitted to a breath test which resulted in a breath alcohol level of .125.
Officers Gonzales and Dalton were on water patrol around Long Boat Pass when they conducted a boating safety inspection on a vessel transiting near the pass. During the inspection, the officers saw indicators in the operator’s behavior that led them to believe he may be under the influence of alcohol. The officers assessed the operator’s level of impairment to determine if he was able to operate his vessel safely. After their investigation, they placed the operator under arrest for boating under the influence of alcohol and he was taken to jail. The subject will have to appear in court for his violation.
Officer Davidson, along with two U.S. Coast Guard members, were on water patrol around the Cortez Bridge. They stopped and performed a boating safety inspection on a vessel heading north towards the bridge. Officer Davidson could smell alcohol coming from the captain of the vessel and he was also having trouble with his speech. Officer Davidson investigated to determine the subjects level of impairment. Upon completion of his investigation, Officer Davidson placed the captain of the vessel under arrest for boating under the influence of alcohol and he was taken to the Manatee County Jail.
Officer Grenz was on land patrol around the South Skyway Fishing Pier. She conducted a fisheries inspection on an individual fishing from the pier. During the inspection, Officer Grenz found that the subject had one undersized gag grouper. The subject was issued a criminal citation for possession of undersized gag grouper and will have to appear in court for the violation.
Officer Balfour was on land patrol in Werner Boyce Salt Springs State Park when he saw a vehicle drive through a stop sign and fail to pay the entrance fee. The officer stopped the vehicle for the violations. During the stop, he learned the driver was driving with a previously suspended license. Officer Balfour arrested the driver for driving without a license and issued several citations and warnings for the various state park violations.
While on patrol at the North Skyway Fishing Pier, Officer LaRosa initiated a fisheries inspection with a subject who stated he only caught a bonnet head shark. Upon inspecting his cooler, Officer LaRosa found an undersized gag grouper hidden under the shark. The individual was cited for possession of an undersized gag grouper.
While on patrol at the Gandy Bridge, Officers Bibeau and Litherland saw multiple individuals actively fishing from the shoreline. The officers watched the individuals from a concealed location and contacted the them as they prepared to leave the area. The officers conducted a fisheries inspection and located two undersized and out of season snook. Officer Bibeau read the individuals their Miranda Rights and after a short series of questions one of the individuals admitted to accepting the snook from another subject earlier in the day. Officer Bibeau wrote the individual a misdemeanor citation for possession of snook during closed season and warnings for undersized snook and not obtaining a valid snook permit.
While on water patrol at the Gandy Bridge, Officers Ferguson and Phillippi saw two males fishing underneath the bridge from a support piling. Officer Phillippi dropped Officer Ferguson off on the piling to conduct a resource inspection at which point he saw two mangrove snapper laying on the piling. Officer Ferguson asked if there were any other fish besides the snapper laying on the piling and one of the subjects stated he had another mangrove snapper in his bait bucket. Upon inspecting the bait bucket, Officer Ferguson found a 12” red grouper swimming inside. Officer Ferguson laid all the fish next to each other and showed the subjects how they clearly weren’t the same species. The subject responsible for the red grouper was cited for possession of undersized red grouper and warned for possession of undersized mangrove snapper and not having a valid saltwater fishing license.
Officer Carter and Lieutenant McCorkle were conducting boating safety and resource related patrol at night on the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes. They conducted a stop on a vessel not displaying an all-around white light on Lake Shipp. During the vessel stop the operator displayed signs of impairment. The operator agreed to complete seated field sobriety tests and upon completion, the operator was arrested and cited for one count of BUI. While at the jail the operator refused to provide a breath sample.
Captain Brooks and Officer Earls were conducting boating safety and resource related patrol on the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes. While assisting Polk County Sherriff’s Agricultural Deputies at the Canal Commission boat ramp, they saw a vessel maneuvering in an unusual, irregular pattern near the east Lake Shipp boat ramp. The operator of the vessel was yelling to other patrons on the boat ramp and shoreline displaying signs of impairment in his speech. Captain Brooks quickly maneuvered the patrol vessel to the boat ramp were the vessel was being loaded onto the trailer. The operator was observed getting into the driver’s seat and starting the vehicle hitched to the vessel. Officer Earls approached the vehicle to inform the operator of his property lying on the boat ramp. A strong odor of an alcoholic beverage was emitting from the vehicle’s driver compartment. Officer Earls conducted seated field sobriety tasks on the operator resulting in an arrest for boating under the influence and driving under the influence.
Officers Tyer and Livingston responded to a tip alleging someone drying an alligator hide on their front porch in Polk City. When Officers Tyer and Livingston arrived, they located the untagged alligator hide and conducted interviews. One subject stated he found it dead and denied killing the alligator. The subject was arrested and cited for one misdemeanor count of possession of alligator parts.
Captive Wildlife Investigator Zimmerman issued citations to a facility for unlawful Importation of Class I wildlife without a valid importation permit. A second citation was also issued for failing to obtain an official certificate of veterinary inspection prior to entering the state.
SOUTH REGION A
Officer Holcomb was on land patrol and conducted a fisheries inspection at the Hallandale Beach Bridge. During the inspection, a subject had 16 undersized mangrove snapper in his possession. The legal bag limit for mangrove snapper is 5 per harvester and they must be at least 10 inches in total length. The subject had been issued a warning less than six months prior for possession of undersized mangrove snapper. The subject was issued two citations for over bag limit and undersized mangrove snapper.
While on patrol in the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area, Officer Tarr saw a subject illegally target shooting. As he approached the target shooter, Officer Tarr also saw 2 subjects fishing directly behind the rock/dirt berm the subject was shooting in to. The subject passed by numerous signs advising that target shooting is illegal in that area. The subject was issued a criminal citation for public discharge of a firearm and issued a warning for the careless exhibition of a firearm.
Officer Grant received information that an individual was feeding and harassing burrowing owls at a park in southern Broward County. She initiated an investigation and spoke to witnesses and park personnel. She, along with Officer Brock and Investigator Corteguera conducted surveillance at the park. Through their observations, Officer Grant contacted an individual at the burrowing owls’ nests and charged him with misdemeanor violations as pertaining to feeding and harassing burrowing owls.
Officer Grant responded to a marina in Ft. Lauderdale at the request of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. The Agency had stopped a vessel returning from the Bahamas and had located queen conch onboard. Officer Grant met with the customs agent and also spoke with two individuals onboard the vessel. Officer Grant seized over 100 dead queen conch that were onboard the vessel and entered them into evidence. Officer Grant is filing this case federally with the National Marine Fisheries Service as a violation of the Lacey Act.
Officers Lopez and Ryan were on patrol in Dania Beach. They were conducting saltwater fisheries inspections along the Dania Cutoff canal. They saw one individual fishing in the canal. They conducted a resource and license inspection. The individual did not have a fishing license and had an active felony warrant out of Metro-Dade County. Officer Lopez placed the individual under arrest and transported him to the Broward County Jail.
Captive Wildlife Investigator Corteguera completed an investigation regarding the illegal possession of a conditional species. One subject was found to be in possession of an approximately five-foot Nile monitor. One misdemeanor and nine warnings were issued about the illegal possession and the Nile monitor was turned over to FWC biologists. Investigator Teems and Officer Cornell assisted on this incident.
Officer Keen was on vessel patrol on the Caloosahatchee River. Contact was made with the operator of a vessel who stated they were on the way back from the Bahamas. Once he was done with the boating safety inspection, Officer Keen asked to see their catch from the trip. A fisheries inspection revealed that queen conch was aboard. The subject was issued a notice to appear for possession of queen conch.
While conducting water patrol Officers Morrow, Pecko, and Brodbeck saw a vessel underway with eleven persons onboard. The number of passengers appeared to be over vessel capacity and a small child without a PFD was present. Upon contacting the vessel operator, Officer Morrow saw that the subject was speaking with slurred speech, had bloodshot eyes and had difficulty spelling his name. Officer Morrow conducted a BUI investigation and arrested the subject for BUI. The subject was transported to the Martin County Jail. The subject was cited for BUI and refusal to submit to a breath test. An additional charge of BUI with person under 18 years of age onboard is pending.
Officers Hudson, Carroll, and Brevik were on patrol near the Jensen Causeway when they saw two jet-skis operating recklessly. The Officers conducted a vessel stop on the two jet-skis. While the officers were conducting a safety inspection the operators showed many signs of impairment. The two operators were placed under arrest for boating under the influence and reckless operation of a vessel.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officer Brodbeck was on patrol in Jupiter when he saw two unregistered dirt bikes being operated on a public roadway by juveniles. A traffic stop was initiated to address the violation. One operator stopped, while the other fled. Officer Brodbeck told the operator who stopped to stay where he was and attempted to find the fleeing dirt bike. He returned to the first operator and upon questioning, learned the name and address of the subject that fled. Officer Brodbeck brought the compliant individual and dirt bike to the residence of the subject who fled. Jupiter Police contacted Officer Brodbeck regarding the subject that fled, indicating he had also been involved in two hit-and-run accidents earlier that day. The subject’s father agreed to call Officer Brodbeck upon the return of his son. Two days later, after hearing that the subject had returned home, Officer Brodbeck returned to the residence and issued the subject criminal citations for reckless driving and operating an unregistered motor vehicle, as well as traffic citations for running a stop sign, running a red light, and operating into oncoming traffic. Jupiter Police will be filing felony warrants for fleeing the scene of an accident with property damage.
Officer Brodbeck was on patrol when a vehicle was observed operating in a careless manner. The vehicle nearly rear-ended another during normal traffic flow along US 1. A traffic stop was initiated to address the violation. Upon contact with the driver of the vehicle, multiple signs of impairment were detected. After completing field sobriety tasks, the subject was placed under arrest for DUI. During transport to the Palm Beach County Jail, the subject became increasingly disrespectful and hostile. While at the jail, the subject threatened Officer Brodbeck and the officer’s family. The subject provided a breath sample of 0.166, over twice the legal limit. The subject was issued a criminal traffic citation for DUI with an over 0.08, and a citation for following too closely. The subject was additionally cited for a felony for threatening a law enforcement officer.
Officers Pecko and Brodbeck were on vessel patrol when they saw a sailing catamaran with approximately 25 people on board. A vessel stop was initiated to conduct a boating safety inspection. Officer Brodbeck explained the purpose of the stop and regulatory requirements to the owner of the vessel. The owner of the vessel stated that he refused to allow a boating safety inspection. After Officer Brodbeck informed the owner of the vessel that he would be placed under arrest for interference of an FWC officer, the owner complied with the inspection request. The vessel was found to be well short of the required amount of PFD’s and the owner of the vessel was issued a Uniform Boating Citation for the violation.
Officers Hudson and Trawinski received a complaint of an individual selling fish from his house. The officers responded to the call and found an individual sitting outside his house with 4 coolers around him. The officers saw a scale, calculator, cutting board and plastic bags on top of one of the coolers. They asked the individual what he was doing, to which he responded that he was selling fish. Inside of the four coolers were 7 barracuda, 2 cubera snapper, 1 permit, 1 black grouper and 6 triggerfish. The individual stated he did not have any more fish, but upon investigation the officers found one additional cooler containing 4 barracuda. The individual was cited for over the bag limit of barracuda and selling saltwater products without a saltwater products retail license.
Officers Hudson and Trawinski received a call from the Lantana Police Department regarding a possible boating under the influence incident. The officers responded to the area and began to look for the boat. The officers saw a vessel leaving the area without navigation lights and initiated a vessel stop on the vessel. When the officers pulled next to the vessel, the occupants informed the officers that they had just been hit by another boat and were following it. The officers located the boat that had caused the accident and initiated a vessel stop. The officers investigated what caused the accident. Officer Hudson detected signs of impairment from the operator and conducted field sobriety tasks. The operator was placed under arrest for boating under the influence and boating under the influence with property damage.
Officer Brodbeck was on vessel patrol in the area near Palm Beach Inlet when a vessel was seen with three individuals actively fishing. A vessel stop was initiated to conduct a resource inspection. Upon contacting the three individuals, two did not have valid saltwater fishing licenses. Officer Brodbeck boarded the vessel to inspect their catch and located a large cooler on board with a variety of both regulated and unregulated species. The officer asked the owner of the vessel if there were any more fish on board and he stated there were not. A second cooler was found which contained more fish. After measuring and counting all the fish on board, a total of 42 snapper were found, including 32 undersized lane snapper and 1 undersized mutton snapper. Also found on board the vessel was a measuring tape which included pictures and size limits of the fish caught in Florida waters. The owner of the vessel received misdemeanor citations for over the daily bag limit of snapper, possession of undersized lane snapper, and possession of undersized mutton snapper. Warnings were issued for the license violations. The fish were seized for evidence.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Officer Bingham and Officer McLeod responded to a jet ski explosion where two of the passengers received third degree burns. The officers secured the scene and had the subjects transported to the nearest trauma center for treatment.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Armstrong participated in a public outreach event at the Hunt Elementary School for their summer program sponsored by the Coral Springs Police Department. Officer Armstrong talked to the kids about the FWC and brought a small alligator with him to educate the kids about alligator safety.
SOUTH REGION B
MIAMI DADE COUNTY
Officer Dunn and Officer Perez were on land patrol in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. They saw two individuals fishing at one of the fishing piers. One individual appeared to be wet from swimming. The officers conducted a saltwater resource inspection and found their ice chest to contain 1 lobster, 3 undersized mangrove snapper and 1 undersized schoolmaster snapper. One individual claimed the lobster and fish and was cited accordingly for the resource violations. Approximately 20 minutes later, Officer Dunn and Officer Perez saw an individual pulling an ice chest and carrying a spear gun along the seawall near the light house. Upon closer inspection, the individual appeared to be wet from swimming. The officers conducted a saltwater resource inspection and found the individual to be in possession of 5 spiny lobsters, 1 Spanish lobster and 1 parrot fish. Three of the spiny lobsters were speared and one was undersized. The individual admitted to swimming along the seawall and catching all the lobsters and fish. He was cited accordingly for the resource violations.
Captive Wildlife Investigator Smith responded to a complaint regarding the illegal possession of a large Burmese python. The owner contacted FWC’s amnesty program to turn the snake over to a licensed facility, but then refused to follow through with the transfer. Investigator Smith located the individual and issued a criminal citation for the illegal possession. The snake was placed at the licensed facility that was supposed to receive it through the amnesty program. Officer Hernandez assisted on this incident.
Officers Rubenstein and Wagner were on water patrol with Lieutenant Payne in an unmarked vessel looking for early lobstering. While cruising the shoreline around the lower keys they saw an individual diving with no dive flag looking suspicious in an area that is known to have lobster. Lieutenant Payne dropped off Officer’s Rubenstein and Wagner on a nearby island where they watched the individual continue to work the ledge that holds lobster. The individual continued to look around and work his way over to a kayak stashed at the entrance to the area. As the subject approached the kayak he never took his hands out of the water holding something below the surface. When he got in his kayak he placed a lobster gaff and a bag into his lap and started to paddle off. Once he was in shallow water he was stopped for an inspection. The subject had 7 out of season, undersized, wrung, punctured, over the limit lobster, and no fishing licenses or stamp. He was placed under arrest and taken to Stock Island Jail.
Officer Garcia assisted USCG Islamorada with a vessel stop around Blackwater Sound. On the vessel were two adults and two teenagers. The two adults were found to be in possession of 65 gray snapper, three of them undersized, and one undersized barracuda. Both subjects were arrested and charged accordingly.
Officers Baumgartner and Conrad were on patrol around Card Sound Bridge in North Key Largo. They saw a subject actively fishing with pole in hand. Upon inspection, the subject stated he had no fish. A cooler was discovered in the subject’s vehicle and the subject gave consent to inspect. Inside were two undersized black grouper, one undersized mutton snapper, a mutton snapper not in whole condition, and an undersized yellowtail snapper. The subject was cited for the violations.
Officer Petru was on water patrol in the Whale Harbor channel and saw a large pontoon boat leave the sandbar with numerous people on board. He initiated a stop, identified the operator and conducted a boating safety inspection. Through the course of the inspection he noticed the operator appeared impaired and asked if he would perform a few tasks to make sure he was safe to operate the vessel back to the livery. The operator was arrested for BUI and refused to provide a breath sample. He was cited for operating a vessel while normal faculties are impaired and refusal to submit a breath sample and was booked into Plantation Key Jail.
Lieutenant Peters was on water patrol in an unmarked vessel wearing plain clothes south of Love Canal near Sugarloaf Key in state Atlantic Waters of Monroe County. He saw a light blue contender displaying a dive flag with two snorkelers in the water actively spearfishing. Lieutenant Peters waited until one of the subjects swam back to the vessel and he approached to conduct a marine fisheries inspection. During the inspection he found the two subjects each had shot one hogfish. He asked where the fish were and was told in the center deck hatch in front of the center console. Lieutenant Peters found 7 mahi inside the deck hatch that were not in whole condition along with two hogfish. The captain said he did not have a chance to measure the hogfish and that he was responsible for all the fish on his vessel. Lieutenant Peters measured the hogfish and showed the captain that both were clearly undersized. Lieutenant Peters measured the 7 mahi and determined 4 of them were clearly identifiable as being undersized. The captain was issued one notice to appear citation for: possession of undersized hogfish, possession of mahi not in whole condition, and possession of undersized mahi.
Officer Thompson and Investigator Mattson were on patrol near Tea Table Bridge, Islamorada when they saw an individual that was actively fishing from a kayak. They conducted a resource inspection and Investigator Mattson noticed a fish tucked under his leg. He asked to see the fish that was later identified as a mutton snapper measuring 11 inches. After further research Officer Thompson found that the individual had a history of failure to pay fines. Officer Thompson placed the individual under arrest due to him being a flight risk. He was cited for possession of undersized mutton snapper.
Officers Thompson and Petru were on routine patrol in Whale Harbor Channel, Islamorada. They noticed a boat that was in gear and pulling their anchor across the bottom with a large number of people on board. Officer Thompson conducted a safety equipment check and noticed signs of impairment from the operator. After conducting SFSTs on the operator, Officer Thompson placed him under arrest for operating a vessel while normal faculties impaired. The operator consented to give a breath sample and blew a .150 and a .151. He was also cited with operating a vessel with a BAC of .08 or higher.
Officers Trueblood and Thompson were conducting Sanctuary Preservation Area patrol near Alligator Reef SPA, Islamorada. They saw a small vessel with fishing rods in rod holders quickly pulling anchor as they approached. The officers stopped the vessel and conducted a fisheries inspection. During the inspection the officers located two undersized red grouper in a live well along with multiple other unregulated fish. The officers informed the three men onboard that they were illegally fishing within the Sanctuary Preservation Area and the grouper that were on board were illegal and undersized. The operator of the vessel was cited for bottom fishing within the SPA and undersized red grouper. The case will be forwarded to NOAA Office of Law Enforcement.
Investigator Mattson and Investigator Hein were on water patrol near Islamorada. They conducted a boating safety inspection and noticed signs of impairment from the operator. At the end of the boating safety inspection, the operator was arrested for BUI.
Investigator Hein was on water patrol in Islamorada. He conducted a boating safety inspection on a vessel and at the conclusion, the operator was arrested for BUI.
Officer Hoppe was on water patrol in the Everglades National Park with an Everglades Park ranger when he stopped a boat with three men actively fishing. An inspection revealed the men had 34 mangrove snapper, which is 19 over the bag limit. The men were cited accordingly for the violation.
Officer Yurewitch was on land patrol in Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park. While assisting with closing the park, a staff member located a parked vehicle without an overnight pass displayed in the vehicle. Officer Yurewitch assisted park staff in locating the individual to ensure there were no safety concerns. The individual was located and provided the required pass. The individual then returned to his vehicle to place the overnight pass on the dashboard. While at his vehicle he retrieved a bag of fish. Officer Yurewitch saw what appeared to be undersized Spanish mackerel. Officer Yurewitch conducted a resource inspection of the fish as they were in plain view. He confirmed the fish were undersized. The individual was cited accordingly for possession of three undersized Spanish mackerel.
Officers Stearns and Plussa responded to a report of reckless driving of a vessel around Kewaydin Island. An off-duty FWC officer witnessed the vessel operator driving recklessly. During the investigation, the operator became non-compliant and combative. The operator was interfering with the investigation and was arrested. The operator was cited for reckless operation of a vessel, boating under the influence, (BUI), and operating an untitled vessel. The arrested operator received several other citations including, refusal to submit to breath test, violations of navigation rules, registration display, and safety equipment.
Officers Stearns and Plussa were on land patrol in Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park. The officers saw a motorcycle driving carelessly. A traffic stop revealed the operator’s driver license to be permanently revoked. The driver was arrested and cited accordingly.
Officers Stearns and Plussa were conducting vessel patrol in Naples Bay when they saw a rental vessel with children under 6 years old not wearing life jackets. An investigation revealed that the boat was over its allowed capacity. The rental company employee who leased the vessel was cited for two misdemeanors. The violations included renting a vessel over capacity and for not having the required safety training to rent vessels. The vessel operator was cited for not having the children wear life jackets.
While conducting water patrol, Officers Plussa and Stearns saw a vessel collide with mangroves as it approached a busy boat ramp. A safety inspection revealed the operator was impaired. He was arrested for BUI.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROL
As part of the National “Operation Dry Water” Boating Under the Influence Campaign Investigator Williams and Officer Mobley were on water patrol Oceanside of Whale Harbor. We saw a vessel with the engine trimmed all the way up and the operator start the engine and put it in gear. Once alongside the vessel we saw signs of impairment from the operator. The operator consented to seated field sobriety tasks and was arrested for operating a vessel while normal faculties impaired. The subject was booked in to Plantation Key and refused to provide a breath sample.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Dube, McKay, Steinmetz and Investigator Mattson participated in the Key Largo 43rd Annual 4th of July Parade along US 1 with the theme of “Fallen First Responders.” Officers Dube and Steinmetz towed a patrol vessel that was manned by “pirates” (a.k.a. family members) and armed with super soakers. They were a great hit with the crowds who soaked them back on this hot day. Officers McKay and Mattson assisted with traffic control at various intersections. The Monroe County Sheriff Office Captain Fanelli thanked our units for our continued support and for maintaining a great working relationship between agencies.
Officers Araujo and Reams were guest speakers at subject safety course held in Collier County. The officers presented a PowerPoint to a group of youths regarding hunting laws and regulations. The topics discussed included, Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), prohibited methods of “take” (removal of wildlife) and antler size requirements.
The officers mission was to educate future resource users on the importance of being ethical and the importance of conservation.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Officers Garcia and Petru were on water patrol around Hen and Chickens SPA near Islamorada when they heard a distress call of a vessel taking on water. USCG Key West, Islamorada and FWC tried to identify the location of the vessel. The vessel in distress was able to relay GPS coordinates and Officer Garcia and Petru were first on scene. A dive boat nearby had two divers swim over to the vessel and were in the process of swimming two small children to the dive boat. Officers were able to safely transfer the parents from the sinking vessel and place the children onto their patrol vessel. USCG Islamorada arrived and began pumping the water out of the vessel while putting it in a hip tow to keep it moving. Officer Garcia contacted Towboat US and they assisted with the pump out. The joint effort saved a vessel from sinking and rescued four people without injury. Officers transported the boaters back to their resort where they were staying while Towboat towed their vessel safely to the dock.
MAJOR WILDLIFE ASSISTANCE
Officers Yurewitch and McVaney, along with Investigator White, responded to a report of a cooper’s hawk trapped in a supermarket. The officers located the hawk perched on a 20-foot-high roof top beam. Using ladders and nets, the officers captured the trapped bird without incident. Officer Yurewitch transported the bird to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida located in Naples. The hawk was examined by Conservancy staff who concluded that the hawk was unharmed and cleared the hawk for release. The manager of the supermarket expressed his gratitude to the officers for the response and outcome for the trapped wildlife.